HARTFORD, Conn. — This month, in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride, FOX61 is featuring organizations that serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in Connecticut.
Some you may have heard of, some are more in the background.
Advancing CT Together, 110 Bartholomew Ave. Hartford, CT 06106 (860) 247-2437
What is the mission of your organization?
The name of our organization is now “Advancing Connecticut Together.” We are now comprised of 3 divisions; (1) AIDS Connecticut; (2) the Connecticut Center for Harm Reduction and (3) the Connecticut Association for Human services. AIDS Connecticut was formed in 2013 when AIDS Project Hartford (founded 1985) merged with Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition (founded in 1989 as Connecticut AIDS Residence Coalition). The Connecticut Center for Harm Reduction is our prevention arm, comprised of HIV/AIDS and STI prevention efforts and substance use reduction services, including our van-based syringe services program. The Connecticut Association for Human Services was founded in 1918 as an anti-poverty organization. Together the three divisions under the umbrella of Advancing Connecticut Together provide a full range of advocacy and services that address health and wealth inequities in our state.
Because a large part of our history is rooted in the LGBTQA+ community we continue to have a strong presence in activities that serve that section of our community. We are a part of the LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network enacted by state legislation in 2019. One of our agency’s efforts under this network is a Pride month bus ad campaign that runs throughout state during June. The ads direct individuals to a website we created at www.pride-ct.org
Lastly, our CEO was recently appointed to the Governor’s Hate Crimes Advisory Commission, representing the LGBTQA+ community.
How did the pandemic impact the organization?
While we had to limit some of our face-to-face client services, we were able to “pivot” to a mostly virtual service delivery model. We continued to provide HIV/AIDS testing with the use of COVID-safe techniques. We saw an uptick in our van-based syringe services due to heightened COVID-related anxiety.
What is one misunderstanding that you want to clear up about what you do?
Even though we have morphed and merged and expanded since our early days of the AIDS pandemic, we have not lost our commitment to preventing additional infections nor our commitment to providing services to those living with the virus. HIV/AIDS is not over! HIV/AIDS continues to impact the LGBTQA+ community, disproportionately affecting young men of color who have sex with other men (MSM). We continue to work tirelessly to outreach to disproportionately affected segments. We work with the Department of Public Health Positive Prevention Network in outreach efforts. See http://positivepreventionct.org/
If you had a magic wand, what would you do to change Connecticut for the better?
June is Pride month. A young woman in Avon wanted to create a rainbow cross-walk similar to those in West Hartford, Middletown, Simsbury, etc. She was denied by her town leaders. Her response was to create a lawn sign campaign that has spread to other towns. I would love to see these lawn signs in every 169 CT town next June.
What are some great things about the LGBTQ+ community?
The LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network has brought leaders together from many segments of the community. We have worked well together and we continue to celebrate our diversity of thought and representation.
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