Human Services agencies play a vital role in connecting community resources to those in need of services. Some of the agencies are more beneficial to the community than others. Some of the larger agencies that are well connected with political figures tend to receive more funding, and directly affect local policy changes. Inadequate, funding prevents most human services agencies from conducting program evaluations that could be used to help strengthen their capacity, increase funding and track success. One small organization located in Tallahassee, Florida defies those odds.
The agency is located inside Bond Community Health Center the largest community health center in Tallahassee. The small agency is a pioneer of social change in the field of HIV/AIDS creating the only active Peer Navigator program. The Minority Alliance for Advocating Community Awareness and Action, Inc. (MAACA’s) mission statement is to empower the minority community through the linkage of services, the creation of culturally sensitive programs and through mobilization strategies. According to the history “the Minority Alliance for Advocating Community Awareness and Action, Inc. MAACA), formerly known as the Minority AIDS Action Committee (MAAC) was established in October 1999, under Shisa, Inc. Shisa, applied for federal funding from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help with the increasing number of new African American HIV infections cases in the United States. The CDC cooperative agreement capacity-building grant no. PA00003 Priority 3: Strengthening Community Capacity for HIV Prevention was awarded to Shisa, Inc. Shisa’s task was to build the capacity of African American communities to address the growing need for HIV prevention.
States and counties covered under the cooperative agreement included Mobile, Alabama, the pan handle of Florida down to Jacksonville, Florida and then over to Thomasville, Georgia. According to the contract the boards were to provide three areas: 1) create community boards in each of the locations, 2) the board provides prevention events in the African American community especially during National HIV Observance Days and 3) the MAAC boards were to host community capacity building workshops. “In the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there has been since the 1980s a “profound re-medicalization of sexuality.
One of the best-known works on the history of HIV is 1987’s book And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts. Shilts contends that Ronald Reagan’s administration dragged its feet in dealing with the crisis due to homophobia, while the gay community viewed early reports and public health measures with corresponding distrust, thus allowing the disease to spread and hundreds of thousands of people to needlessly die. This resulted in the formation of ACT-UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power by Larry Kramer,” Wikipedia.
According to Wolf Wolfberger, conscious rather than unconscious ideology; “One thing that can be very bad about our ideologies is that more often than not, we are not aware of them. Sometimes we take them so for granted that we lose sight of their existence… At other times, we simply are not equipped intellectually to formulate our ideologies into words. At yet other times, our ideologies are so bad that we cannot consciously face up to them. ” “For example, we all claim to believe in equality – and then we practice gross discrimination, but deny it because we cannot admit it and therefore do not realize that we discriminate.
It is with those ideologies that the stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV/AIDS that places too many US citizens at a higher risk of infection. Many at risk for infection fear stigma more than actual infection itself especially in the African American communities. They instead choose to hide their high-risk behavior rather than get counseling and testing. The lack of awareness of one’s HIV status can affect the overall HIV rates. According to CDC data, “approximately 1 in 5 adults and adolescents in the U. S. living with HIV don’t know their HIV status.
This translates to about 116,750 persons in the African-American community. ” Just as it was in the early years of the pandemic the African American community was not prepared for HIV prevention and did not understand capacity building. The rural south communities did not welcome HIV prevention work especially HIV prevention work in the black churches. Many of the other agencies were not willing or not culturally sensitive to the needs of the African American community. Human service organizations are archetypically “institutionalized organizations.
That is, their growth and survival depend less on the technical proficiency of their work and more on their conformity with dominant cultural symbols and belief systems, that is, institution rule (Meyer & Rowan, 1977) (page 14 – 15). ” By 1990, those institutional rules fo r HIV prevention became more structural. Policy, laws and standard operating procedures were beginning to take form such as the US Congress enacting “the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. Ryan White is the largest federal program dedicated to providing care and treatment for people living with HIV.
A key component of the public health safety net, it reaches hundreds of thousands of people every year with medical care, drugs, and support services. The CARE Act has been a huge success in reducing sickness and death from HIV disease and helping people live longer, more healthy and productive lives. ” Yeheskel Hasenfeld writes, “recognizing that human service organizations engage in moral work impede that they must constantly seek and maintain legitimacy for what they do. They do so by making references to institutionalized moral system in their environment.
That is, they adopt and uphold moral systems and cultural frames that resonate well with their significant audiences, such as legislative bodies, government bureaucracies, regulatory agencies, professional associations, other human services organizations, various civic and political associations, and clients (Scott, 2008). ” By 2005, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines stated that all agencies providing HIV prevention intervention programs must follow the “Behavior theory Interventions” as outlined in the CDC procedure guidance book. With this shift many of the small minority based CBO closed their doors to HIV prevention work.
Of the fifteen Minority AIDS Action Committee (MAAC) boards formed during the five year of the CDC contract only the agency in Tallahassee, Florida remains. There is still a great need for the African American community to engage in HIV/AIDS prevention work. MAACA host some of the largest events in North Florida from HIV conferences to community workshops and forms. It is only when we chose to engage, constantly seek and maintain legitimacy that what we do in the field of HIV/AIDS that MAACA will continue to exist. MAACA is a champion for the people and was able to diversify funding sources while remaining true to its mission.