He lives out of his backpack, smokes weed, and sleeps on Venice Beach--far from a conflict-ridden and chaotic home in the Central Valley that he left.
But on his first morning as a "peer leader" in an innovative new HIV prevention program, he arrived 45 minutes early, a fresh cup of hot coffee in his hand.
"He came ready to work," distributing zippered bags packed with condoms, HIV information, and a fruit snack to other homeless youth, said Eric Rice of the University of Southern California's School of Social Work, who is leading the initiative to teach and protect high-risk homeless youth.
The project is part of a major new effort funded by the California HIV/AIDS Research Program (CHRP) to curb the HIV epidemic in California by creating unique interventions tailored to hard-to-reach populations--reducing disparities in HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
Three new CHRP grants--totaling $9 million over four years--are supporting innovative projects at UC Centers for AIDS Research in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. The Centers will collaborate with community groups to find, test and treat hidden and high-risk populations. If successful, their novel strategies could be more broadly implemented across California.
Read more about the goals and projects of the three Disparities Cores at Centers of AIDS Research at UCLA, UCSF, and UC San Diego.