Sexual Wellness Empowerment & Education Team (SWEET)
SWEET is an initiative that engages youth (ages 12-28) who are either involved in sex work or are at risk of being are being sexually exploited. The aim is to mitigate the associated risks for HIV exposure with this marginalized population by utilizing both a professional therapist and peer mentors. There are six components to SWEET:
1) Mentors will be trained in both group facilitation and how to develop a needs assessment tool.
2) The needs assessment tool will be distributed in schools, at EMYS’ ‘what’s up’ walk-in© Clinic and through our partnerships with other community agencies to collect data on HIV and risk taking behaviours.
3) Based on the collected data, the SWEET team will develop a peer training series on topics gleaned from the needs assessment tool. Expected topics include safer drug use, harm reduction and sex health awareness, healthy boundaries and stigma reduction.
4) Selected youth (identified by workshop-leading SWEET peer mentors) will be offered counselling support by an individual and family therapist whose area of expertise is related to trauma. All services provided will be based on a harm reduction and sex positive perspective. In addition, psycho-education about sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention will be provided through this specialized counselling service.
5) The harm reduction counselling staff and peer mentor will co-facilitate community presentations to educate other service providers about working with youth-at-risk for HIV, specifically those youth who are involved in sex work. This will include educating community outreach workers, child and youth workers and therapists.
6) Youth who are at-risk of HIV will be connected to a nurse practitioner/doctor for HIV testing and to other primary medical care, as required.
SWEET is funded by M•A•C AIDS Fund