In January 2017, the North Carolina Community AIDS Fund granted $2,500 to support the distribution of the film “Thicker Than Blood” to various locations across North Carolina. The film was produced by Second Glance Productions, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and CHISCA (Community Health Interventions and Sickle Cell Agency, Inc). It premiered on February 7th in recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and was shown in Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem on February 7thand 8th. The film was made to dispel myths and increase awareness and knowledge about HIV, homosexuality, and the stigma surrounding these issues; and to encourage discussion that addresses the social, cultural and structural barriers faced by HIV+, LGBTQ community members, and even persons who are unaware of their HIV status. Our grant went to CHISCA for them to support the film’s distribution as part of their Safe Spaces Stigma Awareness Campaign. CHISCA has considerable experience working with Black/African-Americans living with HIV and is among the first community-based organizations to actively reach out to, engage, and employ individuals of color living with HIV.
Safe Spaces is a curriculum-based support group designed for HIV+ men and women of color as a safe and judgment/stigma free environment to learn more about HIV care and prevention, gain a social support system, achieve viral suppression and learn to be an advocate in their own lives. Safe Spaces was developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Communicable Diseases Branch as part of a CDC-funded demonstration project designed to increase the number of PLWH that are retained in care from the perspective of the social, cultural and structural barriers to care that HIV+ MSM of color often face.