Screening Testing Education and Prevention Urban Partnership (STEP-UP)

Who we serve: 13-24 year old Haitian, Caribbean and African-American youth
Where: North Miami/Little Haiti and Liberty City
Goal: Engage, educate and inform youth around substance use and the link with HIV and viral hepatitis

Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships and includes the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of bullying, discrimination and violence.

Under our Health and Wellness Pillar of Service is Screening, Testing, Education and Prevention in Urban Partnership (STEP-UP). The purpose of this program is to raise awareness of sexual and substance use risks, increase testing and reduce transmission for HIV and viral hepatitis and to provide support for healthy living.

Further, Haitian, Caribbean and African-American cultures do not openly talk about sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and we encourage dialogue to help reduce stigma. Additional barriers to testing include religious conservatism, lack of education, lack of insurance, gender and sexual-preference fluidity, and youth not feeling like they can be honest with their parents.

We educate youth who self-identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning, as well as men who have sex with men who do not self-identify as gay or bisexual. Most are bilingual speaking both English and Creole, with some monolingual Creole speakers.

Using Botvin LifeSkills Training and Hip-Hop 2 Prevent HIV/Substance Abuse, STEP-UP coordinates with school sites, faith-based, local colleges and community organizations for prevention. The SAMHSA-funded project goals are to identify at-risk youth through testing, link them to care and to reduce their at-risk status by providing prevention education.