Get hip, get connected: A social networking platform

Thursday, June 2, 2016: 3:30 PM
Skyline II (Hilton Portland)
Rameses Frederick, BS (Health Promotion Specialist, Mercy Care)
This presentation will detail how Mercy Care’s HIV Prevention Team utilized a social media networking platform, Get Hip Get Connected, as a successful intervention strategy in reaching its target population. Mercy Care's HIV Prevention Team, FOCUS (Integrated HIV Testing), and the Early Intervention Clinic (EIC) are mission-driven initiatives that allow the agency to reach the most at-risk and vulnerable in our community including African-Americans who are low-income, uninsured, and/or experiencing homelessness. Mercy Care’s HIV Prevention team provides continuum of care and support services including education, testing, counseling, primary care, and dental care. The program also recently integrated behavioral health interventions into the care model. In addition to the above, the program utilizes innovative intervention strategies that address approaches to prevention in which the social influences on disease can affect specific target populations. This includes the use of social media to reach the target population. The program's Get Hip Get Connected to all the resources to a healthy lifestyle (GHGC) is a social networking platform that has proven to be a successful intervention strategy in reaching the target population. The approach is a community mobilization social networks/media and in-person engagement strategy developed for Mercy Care. The use of online social applications combined with the efforts of peer navigators has been widely received as a non-stigmatized linkage-to-care model. This approach enables gay African-American men to access health care services around HIV testing, sexually transmitted infections (STI) treatment, mental health, and substance use through warm transfer referrals and linkages to care services. The "warm transfer" approach utilizes direct contact with individuals, providing the service that the new clients will need initial hand-held support with. This removes barriers including social stigma of accessing care, fear, and isolation with the understanding that the service provided is culturally competent to the target audience. GHGC has been successfully branded as a non-intrusive health navigation tool, which produces real-time results, involving live support from peer navigators who provide information and resources, and engages and encourages members to take charge of their health care. An assessment is made with each individual regarding sexual behavior and is then referred appropriately to their particular needs (ACA Marketplace, PrEP, support groups, or linkage to care). The project has helped to: 1) develop relationships with local safety-net providers, which expands access to care, and 2) develop relationships with stakeholders such as club promoters and party vendors who support the intervention by permitting outreach and recruitment services to be facilitated at their venues. The HIV Prevention Team has also expanded its Social Network Strategies outreach in diverse subcultures to include targeting very high-risk clients (transgender, leather community, ballroom community) who can be trained as recruiters to find those in their social networks who can provide a "warm transfer" to the community peer coordinator that can provide screening and linkage to care. During the past twelve months, GHGC has reached 8,030 individuals during community-based outreach events, 2,100 on dating sites, and 8,000 through social media.