The CDC NPIN Featured Partner resource offers HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD, and TB prevention-focused organizations a platform to showcase their services, programs, and materials. Our goal is to highlight the work of CDC's prevention partners and encourage partners to connect with each other to share information and strategies. Organizations are nominated by CDC or their peers, or are self-nominated. Those selected are featured on the NPIN Web site for the month.
The mission of Houston Area Community Services, Inc. (HACS), is to provide a compassionate medical home for all people in Harris County, Texas, regardless of economic status.
HACS began its corporate life in 1998 in Houston as a minority-based AIDS service organization originally providing outreach and case management services to African American and Hispanic/Latino people living with HIV/AIDS and transitioned to a full-service Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (2009) with dual designations as a Community Health Center and Public Housing Primary Care accredited by The Joint Commission (2005 to present) for ambulatory care and behavioral health services.
The agency’s service offerings include:
- Family practice.
- Internal medicine.
- Infectious diseases including HIV-related care and prevention services.
- Pharmacy, including medication assistance.
- Behavioral health, including psychiatry.
- Medical and clinical social work services.
- Case management services.
- Permanent supportive housing.
HACS retains an empathetic, highly skilled, and multidisciplinary team that consists of medical providers, behavioral health clinicians, allied health professionals, social service specialists, and administrative personnel who adhere to a structure and belief that patient needs come first.
HACS serves various communities in many neighborhoods throughout Houston with a goal to support a healthy community. Its outreach efforts include:
- Outreach to individuals in the community seeking health services at HACS.
- Working with other organizations to remove barriers to health care.
- Gathering input from patients and others in the community to improve health services.
- Addressing identified health disparities in the community and developing strategies to reduce them.
- Seeking additional resources to improve the health of individuals in the community.
HACS provides two HIV testing programs with integrated services: Guiding Young Men (GYM), a program for young men who have sex with men (YMSM) of color, and Connect, a program for heterosexual couples.
Health Promotion Specialist Nathan Maxey prepares for testing
HACS’ GYM is a program created and directed by African American and Hispanic YMSM. CDC provided the initial funding that allowed the program to originally provide outreach, HIV counseling, testing and referral, and the Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) group-level intervention. The Youth Advisory Board and GYM program staff were able to integrate HIV-prevention services into the agency’s overall outpatient primary care program, making HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing a routine part of the primary care visit and allowing for immediate access to HIV-related medications and primary care through the Health Center and HACS’ pharmacy. Other services include behavioral health and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development permanent supportive housing (scattered site model), which support HIV-related prevention and care services provided by GYM.
During this last year, HACS has tested 363 YMSM of color for HIV in various locations, including correctional facilities, detention centers, parole offices, recovery centers, health fairs, community center events, and street outreach. In addition, clients were referred to other supportive services, such as sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, housing programs, and job search agencies.
Recruitment for Many Men, Many Voices also occurred during HACS’ testing efforts. In this last year, 72 YMSM of color enrolled in HACS group retreats, where more than 90 percent of the participants completed the intervention. The Many Men, Many Voices groups have been an effective window to the YMSM of color community, allowing HACS to see some of the many social and personal challenges that this community faces each day and, as a result, make the necessary adjustments and modifications to the effectiveness of its programs.
Connect is an evidenced-based intervention that targets heterosexual couples and is augmented by behavioral health services (psychiatry, mental health, and/or outpatient substance abuse treatment services). Licensed therapists offer HIV testing services at each Connect or behavioral health session. HACS’ Connect and HIV testing efforts target young African American and Hispanic women from ages 18 to 35.
Connect is a new intervention and has presented several challenges. One is that couples enroll in Connect thinking that there will be a ‘couple’s therapy’ component. The Connect facilitator often has to redirect back to the curriculum. Another challenge is the availability of the couples due to work schedules. The staff has been offering Connect after hours and on weekends to work around client schedules.
HACS has enrolled over 30 participants in Connect. The number of participants interested in Connect is increasing due to outreach efforts by HACS’ staff.
Houston Area Community Services, Inc.
2150 W. 18th Street
Houston, TX 77008
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