For our first cohort, we targeted our recruitment toward people who have had experience with jail or prison, substance abuse and/or are HIV-positive, but who are now stable, sober and have a commitment to giving back. We carefully recruited each one of our Linkage to Care Peer Guide Trainees to receive this training. The demographics of our first training cohort mirror that of those populations that most affected by HIV in Atlanta. All of the group is African American, three are gay men, three are heterosexual women including a transgender woman, and four are heterosexual men. The majority of the Peer Guides have experienced being in jail or prison in their past, and eight out of 10 are HIV-positive themselves. Most of the group has struggled with and overcome serious problems with addiction, and can testify to an impressive number of years living clean and sober.
Our current trainees have completed their 10 weeks of classroom instruction as well as another 10 weeks of hands-on training, which was spent in a mentored internship at collaborating ASOs and CBOs such as AID Atlanta, Positive Impact, Atlanta Harm Reduction Center, NAESM, Inc., SisterLove, Inc., and Someone Cares, Atl.