Strengthening Communities

Established in 2003, the Red Circle Project (RCP) began as a demonstration project with an initial one-year grant from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In March 2005 RCP was funded by the Los Angeles County’s Office of AIDS Programs and Policy (OAPP) and in August of 2007 supplemental funding was received from OAPP to expand programming to provide culturally competent resources, referrals, and group level interventions for the general Native community.

Currently, RCP is funded by OAPP and the City of Los Angeles’ AIDS Coordinator’s Office to provide services to Native Gay men, bisexual men, Two Spirit men, Transgender men and women. RCP offers the group interventions primarily for urban Native Two Spirit/Gay Men and Native Transgender individuals.

Community PROMISE is an Effective Behavioral Intervention of the CDC with four main objectives that include Community Identification Process, Role Model Stories, Peer Advocates and Evaluation. RCP has successfully adapted the intervention with the production of role model stories in print and media form:

Digital Stories/Role Model Stories

Below are Digital Stories developed by RCP participants in February 2012 through the workshops conducted by the Native American Health Center . Digital Role Model Stories will be implemented in the next phase of Community Promise.

EltonElton (Navajo), ‘To My Brother’ MarcusMarcus (San Carlos Apache), ‘My Life’ MichelleMichelle (Navajo), ‘Your Destiny’ WaylonWaylon (Navajo), ‘Pink Cloud’

The “Strengthening the Circle” Curriculum has four (4) workshops that address behavioral and cultural issues. The workshops incorporate the concepts and beliefs of the Native American “Medicine Wheel.” The Medicine Wheel is a symbol of knowledge that enables individuals to live in balance with all aspects of life – physical, mental, emotion, and spiritual.

RCP coordinates and implements community events such as the annual National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day PowWow held in June and L.E.A.D Workshops to train community advocates. RCP also collaborates with agencies to provide mobile HIV testing units at local powwows.

RCP has developed cultural concepts and designs of social marketing materials that are utilized to encourage community dialogue about HIV/AIDS and encourage HIV testing. Recently, social marketing place cards were placed on local MTA local transit buses in Los Angeles County (examples of designs on website main page). Other concepts have included condom covers, HIV testing posters, and Community Promise Role Model Story cards.

Nationally, RCP staff has increasingly kept the health of urban Native Americans/Alaska Natives at the forefront of programming, education and advocacy. When the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) was released in July of 2010, three goals were outlined: 1.) Reduce new infections, 2.) Increase access to care and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV and 3.) Reduce HIV–related health disparities. RCP is dedicated to reaching these goals by providing HIV prevention education, encourage HIV testing among the Native communities, and the access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care.

Locally, RCP staff assisted in organizing and actively participating in the Asian Pacific Islander/Native American (API/NA) HIV/AIDS Coalition. The coalition was formed to better serve and advocate for the API/NA communities by developing and submitting specific recommendations to the Los Angeles County HIV Prevention Planning Committee that address various issues related to data, access to services, program best practices, cultural sensitivity, etc. The recommendations are in alignment with the NHAS.

A Community Advisory has also been established to assist with the vision and program development of the RCP.

RCP Community Advisory Board Members

  • JuliAnn Carlos, Department of Epidemiology, Los Angeles County
  • Avril Cordova (Lakota/Taos Pueblo), Seven Generations, United American Indian Involvement
  • Dr. Dan Dickerson (Inupiat), UCLA and the United American Indian Involvement
  • Gabriel Estrada, non-enrolled Chiricahua Apache, Rarámuri, and Xochipilteca Nahua
  • Shawn Imitates Dog (Lakota), Community Member
  • Jaye Johnson, Community Member
  • Mark Parra (Navajo), Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles County
  • Tracy Perez (Navajo), Torres Martinez Tribal Assistance for Needy Families, TANF
  • Kenneth Ramos (Barona Band of Mission Indians)
  • Jennifer Varenchik (Tohono O’odham), Community Member