Street Works, a local provider of counseling, outreach, education and care to those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, is launching a new program, Project UNO. UNO stand for U. New. Outstanding.

“Project UNO is Street-Works’ new SAMSHA grant program serving the population of young gay men battling substance abuse addiction with a heavy emphasis on prevention and care of those infected and affected with HIV,” explains David Long, the project coordinator of UNO. “This new program aims to uplift and inspire today's generation of young men with useful tips to sustain life after an positive HIV diagnosis. Potential clients do not need to be HIV-positive to get services. HIV-negative men will be educated on prevention and wellness to ensure an more powerful life. Clients will learn the strengths of journaling and sober social networking to empower their life.”

Clients are then monitored for six months and encouraged to focus on five fundamentals for successfully moving forward with their lives: sobriety, strength, status, self-purpose and safety.

As the program coordinator, Long oversees and develops treatments plans for all clients. He also recruits and identifies clients “via various platforms including colleges, social club settings and the Internet.”

In addition to reaching out to clients, Project UNO seeks to change the hearts and minds of not only those facing HIV and AIDS, but the community as well.

“Project UNO aims to change the perception of young gay men by emboldening them to be stronger in their community, and stronger in their daily lives,” Long said. “I am asking the community, and churches in particular, to bring awareness that gay men are ‘regular’ men and should not be looked down upon due to their sexuality.”

Street Works was founded in 1997 by executive director Ron Crowder as a mobile outreach agency. They target youth, drug users, incarcerated persons, sex industry workers, and those engaged in other high-risk activities.

Through an aggressive program combining on-site counseling, a mobile outreach clinic/outreach center, community footwork, and home visits, Street Works combats HIV and AIDS where it most disproportionately affects American society: in the most economically disadvantaged communities.

Street Works provides education, prevention and care to those infected, affected or both by HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases on the inner city streets of Nashville. They are the only such agency to operate a 24-hour emergency help line and 24-hour on-call counseling in Davidson County.

For more information about Street Works and Project UNO, visit their website www.street-works.org, visit their counseling centers at 2015 25th Ave. N. 37208, 83 University Court 37210, or 520 Sylvan St. 37206. You can also contact them through their 24-hour help line: (615) 259-7676.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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