Study shows safe spaces crucial to community-based HIV prevention
These spaces serve to reduce the environmental barriers that make some populations more vulnerable than others. This is especially true for African-American men who have sex with men.
Safe spaces are typically organized by people who are based in the local community and who work with vulnerable populations. These places give people education assistance, job assistance, treatment, and health testing.
"These safe spaces serve as surrogate homes, creating an environment with a brotherhood or family undertone for men who have often been marginalized by their families and communities and do not trust public institutions such as churches, schools or law enforcement agencies," Jonathan Garcia, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in Oregon State's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said. "Often they have no other place to go."
Even though these spaces are so important, they are currently underutilized as public health tools that can help to prevent and treat HIV.
"The meaning of safety is different for people who don't feel like they are safe at home, or that the police are on their side," Garcia said. "Safe spaces help create that feeling of security not found elsewhere."