Reducing Substance Use and HIV Among Native Americans

SAMSHA provides $1 million in support for Respecting the Circle of Life and EMPWR programs

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention, Behavioral Health

The Center is proud to announce $1 million in new support from SAMSHA to continue providing two behavioral health programs, Respecting the Circle of life and EMPWR with measurable impact for rural, reservation-based youth and adults in Arizona. New funding will support a multi-tiered five-year program that will make meaningful reductions in substance use and HIV risk. 

Included in the project:

  • Community- and provider-level education on risks for substance use and HIV and corresponding universal and selected training and education. 
  • Training for Community Health Workers in the culturally tailored and locally proven intervention, Respecting the Circle of Life. Respecting the Circle of Life is the only comprehensive sexual health education program proven to work in Native American communities, which have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the U.S. Lessons will be delivered to 900 youth and parents at school and at home.    
  • Training of Neighborhood Navigators to conduct a culturally tailored program called EMPWR, a program developed and proven by the Center to increase the practice of screening for sexually transmitted infections. EMPWR will be delivered to over 200 young adults with recent binge substance use.

“We’re thrilled to receive support from SAMSHA to continue providing Respecting the Circle of Life and expand on EMPWR through Neighborhood Navigators,” said Project Director Lauren Tingey, PhD, MPH, MSW. “We are grateful to be able to serve hundreds more youth and young adults with proven programs—which are needed now more than ever before.”

By applying these three public health strategies—universal, selected, and indicated—the project will reach the majority of the community with prevention messages while providing a high level of support for hundreds of individuals at greatest risk for substance use and HIV. The project will also offer convenient HIV screening outside of the clinic to maintain confidentiality. Those testing positive will be linked with high-quality care, including PrEP .  

Respecting the Circle of Life, which is being delivered to tribes in at least three states—with curriculum available online at ETR—will now be offered in conjunction with HIV screening for participating individuals.

“At this time of great uncertainty, it’s so important that we can continue to provide Respecting the Circle of Life and EMPWR, said Angie Lee (left), a Research Program Supervisor with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. “These are two proven programs that will help our young people live out the futures they dream of.”

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