What is 6 Degrees?
It can be hard getting through the door to get an HIV test. There are many reasons why people will put off getting tested. But when someone they know reaches out and supports them in getting tested, taking this important step becomes easier to do. Often people have thought about getting tested and just need a little outside encouragement and support to move forward. That’s where the 6 Degrees project comes in.
6 Degrees is a project where Vermonters who are connected to friends, peers and acquaintances at risk of becoming HIV positive (like having unprotected sex or sharing needles) volunteer to become Community Advocates who reach out to their circles and encourage folks to get tested. This non-judgemental peer support, and the support from a network of testers, makes it easier for people to come in for testing and find out what their HIV status is.
Why is it important to get tested for HIV?
HIV can have a major impact on someone’s health. Many people will not have any symptoms (like getting ill more often) for 11 years after they’ve become HIV-positive, and 1 in 5 people who are living with HIV don’t realize it. The sooner someone gets tested and knows their HIV status, the sooner they can take steps to keep themselves and their partners healthier for longer.
What do I get out of it?
If you become a Community Advocate, you will receive gift cards, credit towards your bills, and other incentives of your choice worth $25 for each person at risk of becoming HIV-positive that you refer who comes in for a test. For example, you could earn up to $250 towards an iPad or an electric bill. You will also be a part of a new, exciting project that breaks down barriers for our friends and community, helping those we know and care about to stay healthier and informed.
Who runs the 6 Degrees project?
The RU12? Community Center, an organization that celebrates, educates and advocates with and for LGBTQ Vermonters has partnered with the Comprehensive Care Clinics, a system of four clinics providing state-of-the-art treatment for all stages of HIV/AIDS. These two organizations work together to:
- Recruit Community Advocates
- Support the advocates in connecting with their communities
- Provide anonymous HIV testing to the people in the Community Advocates' social circles
How do I get involved?
If you’re interested in becoming a Community Advocate, contact Mike Bensel or Jean-Denis Couillard at the RU12? Community Center by calling (802) 860-7812 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Deb Kutzko at the Comprehensive Care Clinic by calling (802) 847-4594. We will set up an interview with you where you can learn more about the program and make sure it’s a good fit for you.