#NHASeverywhere: Watch Heart to Hand’s Community-Based Health Services Story
Heart to Hand, Inc.Exit Disclaimer is a community-based public health organization in Largo, Maryland that provides free and low-cost services such as rapid HIV testing, STI testing and treatment, and sexual health education. Founded in 1999 by Black women to support Black women with HIV, Heart to Hand began in Prince George’s County and has grown to serve the DC-Maryland-Virginia area.
Heart to Hand’s work is an example of the collective efforts needed to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and is the next story in the #NHASeverywhere series. In Spring 2022, HIV.gov launched #NHASeverywhere, a social media effort that spotlights the amazing work being done to help reach the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) goals. Watch Heart to Hand’s story.Exit Disclaimer
Their mission is to provide support, education, and resources that promote healthy lifestyles, decrease health disparities, and increase access to quality health care. They work to empower the disenfranchised by building self-esteem and self-worth and promoting responsible, healthy lifestyle choices, ultimately creating self-reliance.
“When my best friend, Sally Joseph and I started Heart to Hand, it was because Black women were being impacted at an alarming rate,” said Dedra Spears-Johnson, Co-founder and Executive Director. “And Black women really are the cornerstone of the African American community, and if the woman is not supported, then the whole entire family is impacted.”
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS)
Black women are included among the priority populations in the NHAS. They are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to women of other races/ethnicities. Although annual HIV infections remained stable overall among Black women from 2015 to 2019, the rate of new HIV infections among Black women is 11 times that of white women and four times that of Latina women.
Heart to Hand’s work aligns with several goals of the NHAS, including Goal 4: Achieve Integrated, Coordinated Efforts That Address the HIV Epidemic Among All Partners and Interested Parties and Objective 4.1, Integrate programs to address the syndemic of HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and substance use and mental health disorders in the context of social and structural/institutional factors including stigma, discrimination, and violence.
“The NHAS’s focus on Black women is perfectly aligned with the work that we do,” said Anne Wiseman, Deputy Director. “Heart to Hand offers the whole suite of Ryan White services, so that’s everything from case management to medical transportation, psycho-social support, as well as linkage to care.”
To learn more about the NHAS and its implementation throughout the U.S., follow HIV.gov on FacebookExit Disclaimer, TwitterExit Disclaimer, and InstagramExit Disclaimer and sign up for updates as HIV.gov will share more stories, like Heart to Hand’s from communities across the nation.