Nashville CARES expands counseling program

Rebecca Davenport
Original Article:

Nashville CARES is a Nashville non-profit that has worked to extinguish HIV/AIDS in Middle Tennessee since 1985. According to the organization, in the last year alone it has offered services to more than 60,000 Middle Tennesseans infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, including HIV prevention education to over 40,000 youth and adults, 17,000 free confidential HIV tests, and support services to 2,850 men, women, and children living with the disease.

One of the organization’s least-known offerings is counseling services for those living with, affected by, or at high-risk for HIV infection. Clients like Luis often discover this service when they come for free HIV testing. Luis said, “[I] learned that Nashville CARES provided counseling for the infected and affected by HIV. Counseling helped me identify my high-risk behaviors…and then gave me the tools I needed to make different decisions in the future. I now have enough self-confidence to know why I do what I do and not to do it again.”

For that reason, CARES has expanded its counseling program to include all those in the LGBT community, whether or not they are living with or are at high risk for HIV. Men who have sex with men remain a key target demographic, however, because the stigmas associated with being LGBT in the south, added to other stressors, lead to behaviors that put them at highest risk. “One of the easiest ways to make that escape in our culture is through sex and drugs—both temporary pleasures that provide little fulfillment and can often create new problems. Our program is here to help in changing what’s not working in someone’s life so that they can get closer to living the kind of life that’s truly satisfying.”

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