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Center offers support group for men with HIV/AIDS

on October 29, 2013

Richmond has more people living with HIV/AIDS than any other city in the county, but social workers say that services for this population have been lacking.

Against this background a Concord-based non-profit organization, which provides services to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender, has expanded their outreach to Richmond by offering a support group for men living with HIV or AIDS in the city.

Rainbow Community Center started the group in August and it meets every Thursday evening.

“HIV is still a diagnosis that is hard to live with,” said Ben-David Barr, executive director of the center. “Those infected suffer from fear of being rejected by their partners, families or friends. So it is useful to have support from people who have been there.”

The center decided to establish the support group in Richmond following a countywide survey, in which people expressed a need for such services.

“I need my people living with HIV and AIDS support group and we need each other for support in West County considering that stigma plays a major role in the community of Richmond and San Pablo,” one unidentified respondent wrote in that survey.

Men make up the largest group of people living with HIV and AIDS in Contra Costa County, accounting for 80 percent of nearly 2,000 reported cases, according to data from the Contra Costa Health Services. Of those men who have the disease, two thirds were infected by having sex with another man, according to the data.

As of December 2011, the latest data available, Richmond has 356 reported HIV and AIDS cases, the largest number in any municipality throughout the county.

Despite the number, the support group in Richmond has only three participants so far, Tech Tran, a support group facilitator with Rainbow Community Center, said.

“There is strong stigma with people identified as gay men in the African American community,” Tran said, “it’s difficult for them to regain trust if they experienced rejection and trauma in the past.”

Tran said that Richmond is lacking places for people to get tested and receive education on HIV and AIDS.

For more information on the support group, please contact Tech Tran at 925-692-0090 ext 339.

1 Comment

  1. Wade Meyer on October 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Great to see coverage of this issue in Richmond! Also we have to acknowledge and thank the Native American Wellness Center for their support and partnership with us in this work!

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