Go-To Baby is the working group of Gary Musisko and Djebar Kacini. “Go-To Baby” is an organization dedicated to empowering young women with HIV/AIDS so they may lead normal lives. “The Go-To Baby Book” is the name of the pamphlet a young woman on campus who has HIV/AIDS may consult in order to directly contact support entities. The name is arguably clandestine, but necessarily so in order to minimize stigmatization.
The public health issues Go-To Baby addresses are two-fold: To reduce perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to reduce transmission rates among sexually active people in Allegheny County. The CDC in 2005 reported that an estimated 92% of AIDS cases in children under age 13 were attributed to mother-to-child transmission. Practices such as routine HIV screenings, use of antiretroviral drugs for treatment, cesarean deliveries, and avoiding breast feeding have been successful. These forms of intervention have reduced perinatal HIV transmissions to 2% from 25-30% (Center for Disease Control, 2005).These forms of intervention require resources, from money to education, and all things in between.
Our group’s focus is on young women of lower socioeconomic status in Allegheny County. Lack of socioeconomic resources is linked to riskier sexual practices; such as having sex younger and not using condoms (APA, 2014). Housing is part of the issue, as “individuals who are homeless or in unstable housing arrangements are significantly more likely to be infected with HIV” (Cullhane, Gollub, Kuhn & Shapner, 2011). Research also shows that “up to 45% of people living with HIV are unemployed” (Rabkin et al., 2004). A distinct correlation between low socioeconomic status and HIV has been consistently represented in scientific studies, as well.
Our group seeks to provide channels to upward mobility for poor young women. Go-To Baby provides direct contacts to local support organizations so that young women may stay out of desperate situations. Our brochure provides contacts at the Allegheny County welfare office, which the young women can use to secure a reliable food source. The brochure provides simple links to free credit counseling and monitoring for women to build credit and financial wherewithal. Young women who pick up a copy of the Go-To Baby book can find information on subsidized bus passes to maximize independence and adequately enable employment. Legal issues or jail can put a stop to a person’s progress, so the pamphlet includes links to the Office of the Public Defender.
Mental health issues are numerically prevalent among young people with HIV, so Go-To Baby provides local contacts like Mon Yough Community Services so the young woman with HIV can have invaluable access to a psychiatrist at no cost. Mental health issues can make it harder for the young woman with HIV to take all her HIV medication on time, and impair her ability to cope with the stresses of normal life (AIDS.gov, 2012). We also provide details of the Pfizer Helpful Answers program, through which a qualifying woman can get free psychiatric medication for a full year at a time.
The research says education is essential in reducing transmission of HIV, so we provide in the Go-Too Baby book direction on how to receive Pell grants, as well as options for child care. The internal goal is to have all the vetted contact information to these resources in one place. Our group researches the resources and finds the least bureaucratic means possible to help the woman get on track, instead of providing generic numbers into an abyss.
Our mission is not to persuade, nor is it to educate the public through our literature. Instead, our goal is to provide a modest means to stay out of poverty and desperation. In doing so, we seek to reduce the transmission of HIV as a by-product of helping young women in Allegheny County enrich their own lives.