The Los Angeles community site for Friends Research Institute, Friends Community Center, is directed by Dr. Cathy Reback. The site is located on the border of Hollywood and West Hollywood, which is the primary sex-work district for gay men and transgender women. Several service programs and research studies run out of Friends Community Center including HIV and substance abuse prevention services to out-of-treatment substance users as well as methamphetamine abuse treatment for treatment-seeking users.
The programs for out-of-treatment substance users are designed to increase social support and teach survival skills while participants gradually change behaviors. This strategy has attracted a steady stream of out-of-treatment substance users. Most program participants are current substance users, many are sex workers, persons of color, and homeless or living in a transition living situation.
The overall objective of the prevention programs is to reduce the risk that can result from drug use by preventing HIV infection and managing the physical, psychological, and psychosocial manifestations of drug use without the requirement of absolute abstinence or recovery.
Success is evaluated by any change in behavior that reduces physical, psychological, or psychosocial negative drug consequences to participants, their loved ones, and/or their community.
The objective of the treatment programs is to reduce or eliminate substance use and concomitant high-risk sexual behaviors.
There are currently eleven programs and studies implemented at Friends Community Center site, which comprise funding from County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS Programs and Policy; City of West Hollywood; California HIV/AIDS Research Program; National Institute on Drug Abuse; and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information on Friends Community Center, please visit www.friendscommunitycenter.org