Centro de Vida (CdV) targets adult and adolescent substance abusers and provides culturally relevant information activities, referrals, and education directed toward informing them about the relation between drug use, HIV and other communicable diseases such as hepatitis C and tuberculosis. CdV works primarily with injection drug users and their partners at risk of being infected with HIV and/or hepatitis C. Other drug users at high risk of HIV and other diseases including transgendered persons, men who have sex with men, and commercial sex workers, are encouraged to seek services with CdV. Additionally, pregnant women and persons on a waiting list for substance abuse treatment can benefit from a host of interim services.
One of CdV’s specialties is street outreach. CdV conducts street outreach activities in areas and locations during times and days that maximize effective outreach, prevention, and testing for high-risk target populations. This incorporates the distribution of community-level-risk-reduction tools including condoms, bleach kits, and safer smoking kits. These materials serve the purpose of providing information related to reducing sexual risk, reducing HIV transmission risk due to substance use/abuse, and drug overdose prevention. Each staff member maintains a supply of these tools and ensures that they are available during all outreach activities. CdV team members offer educational demonstrations and trainings for using male and female condoms as well as the bleach kits and safer smoking kits. This is crucial to the harm reduction philosophy for their outreach approach and education. The harm reduction philosophy is a set of practical strategies and ideas that reduce the negative consequences associated with drug use. Presently, state law prohibits the distribution of clean needles. Harm-reduction techniques such at the ones used at CdV, offer a legal and effective way of helping people reduce their risk of contracting and/or transmitting the HIV virus and other diseases.
CdV conducts HIV testing using the free, Rapid Oral process. The test takes an average of 20 minutes and includes a risk-reduction session. This risk-reduction session incorporates counseling, education and prevention to the benefit of whoever is being tested. All counseling environments are secure, and conversations are kept private and confidential.
Every staff member of the CdV team demonstrates the upmost level of cultural competency. Whether it is discussing the clinical aspects of HIV and other diseases, or the use of intervention techniques, the CdV staff is fully knowledgeable. The staff works hard to maintain working linkages within a network of community and social service agencies throughout the city of San Antonio.