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July 23, 2018

How Can a Community Garden Project Help People Who Are HIV Positive?

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"C" is for Cure
September 16, 2013

(KaleneBrennan 2013)

Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Foundation announced their 2013 Innovation Fellows. Out of a pool of 180 original proposals, AIDSCare Ocean State's Medical Director, Dr. Lynn E. Taylor, physician, researcher and public health advocate was chosen for a $300,000 grant for her exceptional work in the hepatitis-c virus (HCV) field. The program, "RI Defeats HepC" goal is to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island. Taylor believes this goal is attainable if we act now, "It is the convergence of silence, lack of awareness of hepatitis C and the stigma of the disease that will lead to be a tidal wave of hepatitis C-related suffering and death in the next few years if we don't act now," she said.

Currently, there are limited resources available to persons with hepatitis C, and limited information on where to get tested. The lack of federal funding has pushed hepatitis C into the closet and Dr. Taylor is ready to bust open the door. With the development of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation that persons born between 1945 and 1965 should get tested for hepatitis C, rapid HCV testing, and the revolution in HCV medications, Dr. Taylor believes the goal of eliminating hepatitis C is attainable. "Hepatitis C is one of the only viruses that can be cured. Rhode Island is unique because we're a small state,we have a great health department and many community based programs," she said. 

The grant is composed of five parts: first, a public awareness campaign that is comprised of a poster campaign for "RI Defeats Hep C." Local artists can submit posters to be juried by famous contemporary artist, Shepard Fairey. Next, Dr. Taylor is working with Barnaby Evans to host a Hep C Awareness Waterfire on Saturday,July 26, 2014 to coincide with World Hepatitis Day on July 28th. Lastly, she will be working to design "RI Defeats Hep C" wearable items to build solidarity in the community. The second part is to ensure enhanced screening for hepatitis C is available through ACOS. Our long time commitment to Hep C awareness and our advanced, knowledgeable staff makes ACOS the perfect partner for the RI Defeats Hep C program. Dr. Taylor wants ACOS to be the first place in Rhode Island to offer free viral load confirmatory testing, which is the only way to definitively determine if you have hepatitis C. Steps three and four, ACOS is hiring a Hepatitis C Navigator to help people receive the resources and care they need. Taylor stresses the need for an increased care capacity: how to get people who have hepatitis C into care,treated in large numbers and cured with new drugs that will soon be available. Finally, we need to evaluate our work to ensure we're reaching the most people and saving money for Rhode Island.

We congratulate Dr. Lynn Taylor for being selected as one of the 2013 Innovation Fellows and for being a visionary in the field of hepatitis C awareness and treatment and look forward to kicking off the "RI Defeats Hep C" program.For more information about the 2013 Rhode Island Innovation fellows and about Dr. Lynn Taylor, go here.

Tagged With: ACOS

AIDS care Ocean State help people deal with the physical and emotional issues around HIV, issues that are frequently magnified by poverty. While everyone can agree that medicine can help keep HIV in check, it might be surprising to know that hopelessness, uncertainty and feelings of isolation can be a barrier to living a healthy life for an HIV Positive person.

That’s why Livia Harkow started the Women’s Community Garden Project at our Tanner Street location in 2018. In fact, during a therapy group, a client asked if we could start a garden. Livia, a graduate of URI’s Master Gardener program, knew it was a good idea to engage clients. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that horticulture therapy can really improve the spirits of HIV positive, low income people.

How? It’s an excellent way to talk about nutrition and self-care, and creates a feeling of community and purpose; all of which generates positive emotions, self-esteem and a meaningful appreciation of life. It nurtures the idea that a woman’s body is her own, a feeling that may be new to our clients. In practical terms, it leads to people more actively interested in taking their medicine and going to group therapy. Plus, they are eating healthier, learning life skills, and being a part of something larger.

Thanks to the partnership of some generous donors, including the South Side Community Land Trust and Earth Appliance, our clients have planted a garden of to be proud of. These dedicated women in our group therapy take pride in the beautiful and blooming organic garden they created, where herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and squash thrive in the sunlight.

Inclusion is a big part of the program. Garden beds were created to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so that people with physical limitations could also participate. An ACOS youth group has been invited to participate and Livia would like to expand the program to other ACOS Housing, such as New Transitions, Sunrise House and Austin Place.

Now, the program practically takes care of itself. The Community Gardening Project for Women continues to meet twice weekly using horticultural therapy principles. This wonderful program helps our clients combat isolation and give a sense of community to all who participate.

Would you like to help our clients live, happier, healthier lives by supporting programs like this one? Click here to donate to AIDS CareOcean State!