LIFE is a program for young African-American men 16-29 years old, whom have sex with other men. LIFE doesn’t require you to label yourself as “gay” to participate in our activities. We believe that men can enjoy sexual relationships with a male, female, or both. What LIFE is focused on is helping young men who are sexually active with other men have safe and fulfilling relationships, experience personal growth and live a healthy life.
LIFE is funded through a cooperative agreement that ACCESS AIDS Care has with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an HIV prevention initiative. Both agencies realize that in order for young men to protect themselves and others from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections knowledge, skills and support from their communities must occur. LIFE’s purpose is to deliver prevention in a holistic framework that accounts for a young man’s physical, mental, spiritual, social, environmental and emotional health. LIFE seeks to build a community of young men that can lead the fight against HIV for the next generation. Mentoring young men who are having sexual relationships with other men is an important element of what we do and our purpose. Imagine the difference for a young teen to be able to talk to an older peer about his feelings, fears and behaviors, instead of feeling isolated because of his sexual attraction to other men.
Many of us feel isolated or uncomfortable talking to our friends or family about sex, drug use, tricking, or other things because we feel that we will be judged. LIFE is developing a “shared story” project that lets you, members of our community, tell a story that others can relate to, in order to understand how others make positive changes in their lives. Stories will be on this website and distributed during events and outreach. If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear from you.
LIFE also seeks to include young men who are HIV positive in our community. We believe that young men living with HIV should be defined by their character and not a disease. You don’t have to disclose your HIV status to others to participate in LIFE activities, but if you feel you need a support system, LIFE can offer you one. We also have a staff member dedicated to helping you with all the issues that young men with HIV face such as disclosure, stigma and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
HIV testing is an important component that LIFE offers to young men in the community. The earlier you know you’re positive status, the better your health outcomes will be. We don’t just test you and tell you your status. If you are positive we help you get into care, offer support and help you meet your needs in order to stay in care and remain healthy.
If you come get tested at ACCESS AIDS Care, a portion of the test will be with a counselor. Our test counselors are specially trained in new methods of test counseling. They will talk to you about your risks in a relaxed, but informative manner. LIFE wants everyone that gets tested to explore their justifications and reasons for engaging in risky behavior, in a non-judgmental environment.
Most of all, LIFE is about living healthy. We sponsor many social events that give young men an opportunity to come together, have fun, learn from each other and just be you. We provide a positive atmosphere of support and friendship. Your friends at LIFE are here to help you with your personal growth into the leaders of our community’s future.
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