As an outreach worker, many will see you and think “Wow, what an easy job.” It is so much more than what most see however. The goal of an HIV Outreach Worker is to give people safer sex supplies and to get people tested, and linked in to care.
When HIV/AIDS hit in the 1980’s too many people suffered and died. There was no knowledge about the disease prior and this left everyone scared and wanting answers. I have had many people tell me stories about how so many of their friends had died back then, and the truth is that this horrible disease killed of a generation of people.
Today, the disease is still around, however we have come up with better medication to help those with the virus live happy, longer and healthier lives. There is still no cure, but hopefully one day there will be. With amazing medical breakthroughs such as PrEP, PEP and a multitude of condoms and lube out there, we have the ability to stop the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, younger generations, and even some of the older generations see the advancement of medications and conclude that HIV is just as manageable as Diabetes. “All I have to do is take a pill if I get it, so why should I worry about condoms?” Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV, Herpes…do I really need to go on? Yes HIV is manageable, however it can still lead to serious health problems now and down the road.
As an HIV Outreach Worker, I always try to express the importance of safer sex. That can include anything from getting tested and knowing your status, wearing condoms, using lube, talking to your partners, reducing partners, taking PrEP, taking PEP, not sharing body fluids that carry the virus(That’s the most inoffensive way I can say that), etc. Outreach workers face difficulties however trying to get peoples attention and getting them to take the items you have to hand out. So we must create fun and innovative methods to distribute our information and materials.
I love being creative, and as an Outreach Worker, I get to use these skills in a way that really helps get good information to the community. I have thrown white parties, dressed up as a fortune teller, decorated the HIV testing van with a huge condom on it, worn a penis costume, worn a condom costume, a giant AIDS Ribbon…I could literally go on for days so I’ll stop there, but you get my point.
Outreach Workers are some of the hardest workers and volunteers in the world, so if you see one on a street corner, or at a nightclub, walk up to them and say thank you. I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to recognize the hard work that we do.