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Quarterly Report - Q4/2019

Updated: Jul 14


Overcoming Stigma to Engage Clients

CSB of Middle Georgia / Ogeechee Division: EIS coordinator & infection control nurse Wendy Felix (center) and EIS worker Jennifer McTier (left) with CSB of Middle Georgia/Quentin's Place team: Marlena Dixon and Vivian Hunter.
"When a client walks in our doors, they've made that first step of admitting that they need help." - Wendy Felix

Stigma can make people who suffer from a substance use disorder deny the need for treatment - and it is frequently a barrier to HIV testing. Wendy Felix, EIS coordinator for the Ogeechee Division of the CSB of Middle Georgia has thought a lot about how to engage clients in HIV testing - despite the stigma.


"We try to be patient and compassionate and open so clients feel comfortable," says Wendy. "Although conducting a thorough assessment and providing education is important, sometimes it's not about talking or asking questions, it's just about listening to what they have to say - a lot of times just being willing to listen goes farther than anything."


"Sometimes it's not about talking or asking questions, it's just about listening to what they have to say."

Wendy has also had success reaching her audience with down-to-earth educational resources."We have different pamphlets and literature on HIV, but they're not very user-friendly," says Wendy. "So I tried to create a handout that contains useful information and is easy to understand. I call it Here's the 411 on HIV," (to request a copy, email winona@imaginehope.com.) She uses the handout - which explains how HIV is contracted, the risk factors and how to prevent exposure, what happens if someone does test positive, and emphasizes that HIV testing should be a routine part of healthcare for everyone - to help educate clients, their family members, and Ogeechee staff members.


And finally, Wendy uses a combination of creativity and humor to attract passers-by at health fairs.


"The biggest testing incentive was Punch the Pumpkin."

Each paper pumpkin conceals a prize; all those who agreed to an HIV test were eligible to punch a pumpkin and claim their prize.


Pix from EIS Sites - Q4/2019

Brainchild of Shannon Corda at Alliance Recovery Center in Athens: Spirit Week.


World AIDS Day Testing Event at Gateway CSB in Brunswick.


Welcome to Shadra Billingslea of River Edge


Shadra Billingslea photographed at Rapid HIV Testing & Prevention Counseling Training in October 2019.
"I printed up a whole bunch of signs and posted them everywhere."

With support from supervisor Danielle Fish, Shadra Billingslea is re-building the HIV Early Intervention Services (EIS) program at River Edge Behavioral Health in Macon. "My supervisor sent out a mass email to all the different program areas to let them know that I was available for HIV education and testing," says Shadra.


Since October, she has been providing HIV prevention education to walk-ins and clients at the crisis stabilization unit. She leads educational groups at a River Edge satellite in Warner Robins and has an agreement with a nearby probation office to start educating and offering HIV testing to clients.


"I haven't done any health fairs yet but I made friends with people at the HOPE center and they said they'll try to include me in upcoming events. And I just sent the information about HIV EIS to our social media director for the agency website."


Shadra comes to the EIS program from Department of Family and Children Services where she was a case worker. "I'm a service person," says Shadra. The HIV EIS position is one of three that she was offered. Choosing the EIS job "has been the best decision. I'm excited to come to work. I meet different people, they sit down and tell me their life stories. I feel like I'm actually doing something, helping some kind of way. And that's all I want to do, is be able to say I've done something."


HIV Totals

3,189 HIV Tests, 6 New Confirmed HIV+ Diagnoses

During Q4/2019, Georgia's EIS program tested 3,189 individuals for HIV. Of those, 99.8% received their results. All 6 newly diagnosed HIV-positive clients were referred to medical care; 5 were confirmed linked and one who kept the first medical appointment declined treatment. This quarter EIS workers provided on-going support to 69 HIV+ clients, served 22 new clients who were previously diagnosed HIV+, and re-linked 14 who had fallen out of treatment to medical care.


HCV Totals

3,280 HCV Tests, 228 New HCV/RNA+ Diagnoses

During Q4/2019, Georgia's EIS program screened 3,280 individuals for HCV. Of those, 368 tested HCV Ab+ and 228 were confirmed RNA+ or chronically infected with HCV. During the same period, 177 HCV+ clients took the first step in the linkage continuum by completing HCV education and 50 attended their first medical appointment.


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