Walnut Hill: Program Promotes Health Awareness for Young Adults

Project STAND promoted health awareness among African-American men in Philadelphia.

Project STAND, a project based out of the University of Pennsylvania, is designed to educate African-American males between the ages of 18 and 45 about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. STAND is short for the full name of the project, Steering Together a New Direction. Its mission is to lower the rates of sexually transmitted diseases amongst African-American males.

Recruit leader Hakop Kazandjin explained the mission of project STAND.
Recruit leader Hakop Kazandjin explained the mission of project STAND.

“The program is a risk-reduction program,” Hakop Kazandjin, lead recruiter of the program, said. “It educates them and there are a couple of sessions they are involved in, we bring them in.”

The program does not stop after the two initial sessions. Participants are required to attend two follow up sessions at a date determined by the participant and the session leader. The program continues for a full year after the four sessions and the project leaders communicate with their participants via cellphone.

“It also has a text messaging component to it where we will text them certain things, so they need to have a cellphone that works,” Kazandjin said.

Even though Brian Cohen, a West Philadelphia resident, is not eligible for the program, he believes that it is a good thing. “I think it’s great that they are educating people about STD’s and AIDS and providing free services for them,” Cohen said. “I wish they would educate the young children in school too.”

According to the Philadelphia Department of Health, young adults between the ages of 10 and 14 who live in the city of Philadelphia are almost four times as likely to have Chlamydia when compared to the national average in the same age group. Furthermore, the rate of Gonorrhea is three times the national rate among Philadelphia residents between the ages of 15 and 19.