Armed with skills and information, persons living with HIV/AIDS are often the best communicators of HIV prevention and harm reduction information. Individuals who have already faced an HIV or AIDS diagnosis, navigated the health and social service systems, and found ways to survive and thrive can be important sources of inspiration and support for those just beginning to deal with their HIV status, or searching for tools to improve their quality of life within the context of HIV/AIDS. This process also enhances the lives of the Peer Educators themselves, reducing their isolation while reinforcing their own risk reduction efforts.
ASCNYC Peer Educators include persons at-risk persons new to or struggling with recovery from substance use, as well as those more seasoned in the recovery process. This extensive program recognizes the unique benefits of the peer education model for participant and Peer Educator alike.
ASCNYC’s Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP) addresses the complex needs of HIV-positive people in recovery from drug or alcohol use, PREP provides recovering substance users with intensive training and relapse prevention services, including counseling, education, crisis intervention, and risk reduction skills development. An intensive ten-week training course enables PREP participants to perform various educational outreach activities. By harnessing the power of peer mentoring to help others initiate and maintain healthy behaviors, PREP empowers people who are coping with the dual illnesses of HIV and addiction to sustain long-time recovery from alcohol and substance use, and to take back control over their lives.
As part of our commitment to building ongoing partnerships within our Peer Services Program, ASCNYC offers special internships to its PREP graduates. Peer interns are matched with appropriate ASCNYC staff, whom they then assist in conducting trainings, escorting case management clients to medical appointments, co-facilitating support groups, administering ASCNYC’s Food Pantry and Clothing Bank, and more. Peer interns also conduct health promotion workshops for active substance users, women, HIV-infected populations, and persons at risk.
Spanning an average of six months or longer, these internships include a stipend and support group meetings. The internships solidify and enhance the work experience of PREP graduates, many of whom go on to become full-time staff at ASC and other AIDS service organizations throughout the City. In fact, more than 20 percent of ASCNYC’s full-time staff are former ASCNYC Peer Educators – a fact of which we are extremely proud.
For more information about ASCNYC's Peer trainings and internships, please email Jean Pierre-Louis at email@example.com.