Hook Up to Health initiative will benefit gay young men and transgender women of color

JRI Health, a division of JRI that provides services to LGBTQ+ youth as well as people living with HIV and AIDS, today announced it has been awarded a five-year, $1.75 million CDC grant to expand HIV prevention services in Boston and Lowell. JRI Health’s Hook Up to Health initiative was developed to reduce the health disparities among gay young men and transgender women of color.

The CDC awarded JRI Health $350,000 per year over five years to implement Hook Up to Health. These funds will allow JRI to provide affirming safe spaces; culturally relevant and age-appropriate educational information and safer sex materials; targeted outreach and recruitment; targeted HIV/STD/STI testing; and linkage to care and support services for HIV+ and high-risk HIV-negative individuals.

The need for HIV prevention services in Boston and Lowell is great. According to the Mass. Department of Public Health, Boston and Lowell were among the four cities in Mass. with the highest average number of HIV infection diagnoses.

“This grant will enable our organization to significantly expand its efforts in preventing the spread of HIV,” said Andy Pond, President and CEO of JRI. “Keeping individuals safe and empowered is another way for JRI to fulfill its social justice mission.”

The initiative will be led by JRI’s Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS) program in partnership with Lowell Community Health Center, Fenway Health’s Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.


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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.