State Of Tennessee Awards Grant Funds To Cempa Community Care For HIV- And STI-Focused Minority Health Disparities Initiative

  • Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The State of Tennessee’s Department of Health has awarded funding to Cempa Community Care — formerly known as Chattanooga Cares — to kickstart a new program, “Cempa Talks,” a faith-based symposium and youth ambassador program designed to help alleviate the health disparities of HIV and STIs among the African American and Latino minority populations across urban Chattanooga. 

"Cempa Community Care has been an integral healthcare entity in the Chattanooga community for thirty-two years, providing constant outreach, education and testing," officials said.  "Cempa’s Prevention and Outreach Department is dedicated to education, prevention and support services for those impacted by HIV, STIs and other ailments when so few people fully understand the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these maladies.

Cempa currently offers prevention education in Hamilton County High Schools as well as in many of the surrounding area's colleges and universities. Cempa’s Prevention and Outreach Team has been recognized on a state and national level for its education and prevention efforts.   

"An issue Cempa is working hard to resolve is the fact that minority communities are still disproportionately impacted by HIV and STIs. African Americans represent 12 to 13 percent of the nation’s population, and yet that demographic accounts for over 44 percent of all HIV diagnoses. In Tennessee alone, African Americans account for 16 percent of the population and 56 percent of all HIV diagnoses.

"According to the State of Tennessee Department of Health, over 55 percent of people living with HIV in Chattanooga are African Americans, many of whom live in underserved areas, such as the city’s urban core.  

"Combining education and testing is imperative to reduce the spread of HIV and STI infections among the minority populations in the inner city. Through this faith-based health disparities initiative, Cempa Community Care’s Prevention and Outreach Department will offer Cempa Talks through an interactive and innovative approach by teaming with Chattanooga’s urban faith-based communities and churches. Cempa Talks is designed to educate the community about imperative HIV and STI facts, explaining the vast benefits of getting tested and dispelling any misunderstandings around HIV and STIs. Additionally, by establishing an ambassador program among faith-based leaders and area youth, Cempa will promote peer-to-peer education that will facilitate the spread of greater knowledge about HIV and STIs.   

"Cempa Talks will be launched at faith-based houses of worship, ministries and youth groups across urban Chattanooga. A youth ambassador program for peer HIV and STI education will be established to train youth leaders to provide peer-to-peer support and education.  

Cempa Community Care is actively engaged with minority communities, schools and civic organizations.  In collaboration with its partners, Cempa’s Prevention and Outreach Department will engage African Americans and Latino minorities that face health disparities through education and testing.  Cempa’s strong partnership with the Southeast Tennessee Health Consortium will allow the Prevention and Outreach Department to broaden HIV and STI testing among Chattanooga’s minority populations."

“With various disparities existing across the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination work to ensure that we are intentional in our efforts to address those with the greatest need,” says Monique Anthony, director of Office of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination at the Tennessee Department of Health. “To protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee is our mission.  It is our goal to empower communities to support optimal health for all and to eliminate disparities for racial, ethnic and under-served populations.  The OMHDE Community and Faith-Based Health Disparities grant is one strategy to build the capacity of our partners and ensure their voices are heard.”

Cempa is also collaborating with the Hamilton County Health Department about how to best reach the individuals that are most in need.  

“For many years Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department has partnered with Cempa (formerly Chattanooga CARES) to provide expanded STI testing for the community,” says Bill Ulmer, director of Community Health Services of the Hamilton County Health Department. “Our health department fully supports Cempa Community Care’s programs to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections, help eliminate disparities among those contracting these diseases, and provide enhanced education to our community.” 

Cempa Community Care will partner with Chattanooga’s Health and Wellness Council to host the Cempa Talks kick-off meeting on Jan. 26 from 10 a.m.-noon.  All church leaders are invited to attend this event, located at the Cempa offices, 1042 E. Third St., Chattanooga, Tn. 37403.

To learn more about the kick-off meeting or Cempa Talks, contact LaDarius Price, Community Outreach manager, at 423-648-9920, or

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