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July 23, 2018

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

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"What do I do?"
June 4, 2015

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and AIDS United have collaborated  on a new publication and on-line resource “What Do I Do? A Handbook to Understanding Health and HIV.” The goals of the handbook are to provide clear, accessible and relevant information regarding HIV/AIDS to those who need it most. HRC intends to distribute the handbooks at LGBTQI Pride Festivals throughout the United States with a focus on cities with higher rates of HIV infection. The HRC intends to make the handbook available to doctors, advocates and community-based organizations that specifically serve the LGBT community. 

The Handbook is designed to address specific and key issues, that answers the question What do I do...
-if I know nothing about HIV
-if I think I have HIV
-if I have been discriminated against because I have HIV
-if I want to get on PreP

Check out the handbook for yourself at the link above and see what you think! For more inforamtion regarding HIV & HCV testing in Rhode Island, as well as further resources regarding HIV/AIDS please visit AIDS Care Ocean State's Prevention Center. Call and make an appointment today at 401-781-0665.

Be sure to stop by AIDS Care Ocean State's PRIDE TABLE on June 20th at the 2015 Pridefest in downtown Providence. More information regarding the festival & night parade available here at

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!