Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meet the Staff at CEG Series- Ronnie Neamo

Ronnie Neamo – HIV Outreach Tester

The next member of our staff to be highlighted will be Ronnie Neamo. Neamo has been with CEG for almost two years. He serves as one of the HIV testers/counselors. He cites that he tests up to 100 to 140 people per month throughout wards 7 and 8. Neamo also exclaims that he feels a strong desire to reach people from all walks in order to better inform people about protection and resources.

Neamo is quite passionate about his desire to increase awareness concerning HIV in the District of Columbia. He hopes to contribute to increasing awareness saying, “By not only screening for the virus but educating any and every person I come into contact with when it comes to prevention”.

It is clear that Neamo demonstrates great passion and dedication for his role at CEG. He explains that his greatest accomplishment was, “My decision to enter this field of work, and I say that because that was the day that I decided to really put others before me and to make a difference in my community”.

A native of Roanoke, VA, Neamo declares that he stands out from others in a way that gives him a greater perspective, his travels and experience with diverse groups has prepared him to be more relatable to others.

“I believe that by me not being from the District of Columbia but still being able to go into some of the most dangerous sections of the city and offer HIV prevention among other services to our clients without incident, and to actually be embraced by these individuals is what makes me stand out”.

In his spare time, Neamo enjoys playing chess, and motivating others to “step their game up when it comes to life”.

Finally, for fun, Neamo prefers his peanut butter ‘smooooth’.

Meet the Staff at CEG Series- Toni Young

In the upcoming weeks, you will learn more about the staff of Community Education Group. Seven people will be highlighted including our Executive Director, the Manager of Testing and Field Operations, and several other positions of support that make CEG such a dynamic community resource.

Toni Young – Founder and Executive Director

When first approaching Toni Young, it is very intimidating. She has a demeanor about her that is strong, tough, and ready to fight to get where her organization is today. She founded her organization in 1992 under the title of “the National Women HIV/AIDS Project” and was later changed in 1996 to CEG. However, during the interview I noticed how loving and giving Young is as a person, leader, creator, and director of CEG. With a great sense of humor and love for her staff, she has really come a long way with CEG. I guess Young was right after all, she really isn’t mean as people think she is.

1. What is your role at CEG?

I am the founder and executive director of CEG. My major role at CEG is to have a constant vision for the organization and to provide resources for the staff so they can do their work properly- meaning I need to have the right people and money to implement these services.

2. What do you hope to achieve at CEG?

I hope to have a community level impact. In order to do this, I have to hire and have staff that is willing to grow to have a passion for HIV/AIDS and community service. This way they will be able to really impact the lives of people with HIV or people at risk for HIV/AIDS. Lastly, I hope for CEG to become synonymous with good hard work.

3. Tell me your greatest accomplishment as it relates to CEG or otherwise?

Finding CEG in 1993 and now in 2010 to still be here on target and doing better than ever.

4. What makes you stand out from others?

[Laughs] Now that’s a question you should ask others…

Herman Williams (HIV outreach tester), “I’ve known her [Toni] since July 2008. In comparison to other bosses she supports us from a distance. She watches without you necessarily knowing it. She always knows where you are in your work and she shows her appreciation through things like taking us out to nice dinners. Toni is always willing to share the credit and I always get ‘good vibes’ from her. She is not an untouchable boss.”

5. What are your hobbies?

Playing with Benny, my big fat dog and my cat, Kozmo. I love to travel - one of my favorite places is Rwanda. I love kids and to work for social change.

6. How do you like your peanut butter smooth or chunky?

It depends. For a peanut butter and GRAPE jelly sandwich, definitely chunky peanut butter. But for a Reese’s peanut butter cup, it definitely has to be smooth.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Other City

A film about the DC where we work and the epidemic we're trying to stop, The Other City captures the lives and stories of people with HIV and the service providers who help them.  From the description on the films website:
“The Other City” introduces us to the people who live in the shadow of the Capitol but remain almost invisible to the lawmakers and lobbyists who live there. It’s about politics and ideology, corruption and bureaucracy, and an epidemic that grew out of control while few people paid any attention or cared.
Our own J'Mia Edwards is featured in the film, telling her story of how she lived with her diagnosis and became an activist to fight for fair housing for herself and her children.  Her story of strength is an inspiration to all of us, every day.

You can see the film in DC this weekend, September 18th at The E St Cinema - buy your tickets here!

An astounding film, I can't wait to see it myself.  Check out the trailer below -

Navigating the Web for Your Health!

Last month Community Education Group implemented a training program, to provide anyone the skills they need to navigating the web and find accurate, useful health information. Below we've included our Health Tutorial, developed as part of the program and one we hope you will find helpful. Knowledge is power and the internet is a fantastic resource to help us all find more.

Navigating the Web for Your Health: An Online Tutorial

Welcome to Community Education Group’s Navigating the Web Tutorial. Below we’ll give you a brief introduction on how to use the internet to find accurate health information, so you can protect yourself and your family, ask your doctor the right questions and get the right answers. Now, more than ever, knowledge is power, but finding information can be hard. This tutorial will make it easy for you to get the information you need!

1. What is the Internet?
2. How do I find information I want?
3. How can I tell if information is right?
4. How should I use health information found on the internet?

What is the Internet?
The internet is a network of networks, computers connected all over the world. It is an interrelated web of web pages (like this one) within web sites within a larger web of sites this site links to and from. People can connect to web sites created by anyone with a computer and internet account.

What’s a link? A link connects you to a new page of information. Links are generally underlined and a different color than the other words, but you can always tell a link because your cursor changes from an arrow to a hand.

What’s a web page? A web page is a single page of information. When you open up a web browser, it opens to a single webpage – all the information you see when you scroll up or down.

What’s a web browser?
A web browser is the program you use to look at the internet. It might be Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari or another program. It translates the code all web sites are written in into all the colors, patterns, spacing and other formatting you see on any web page.

What’s a web site?
A web site is a series of related web pages, created by the same organization. Sometimes a single website will be written by hundreds of people – sometimes a website will be a host to many different people’s ideas, or people’s individual web pages (for instance, many people create blogs on websites owned by google or yahoo – or profile webpages on facebook or myspace).

How can I tell what web site I’m on?
Every web page has its own address, just like an apartment. The address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the code in the top of your browser. It tells you where you are on the web. One example is Like this:

The URL has several parts:

http:// this is the foundation for nearly all websites, and stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol.” Hypertext means you can jump from 1 page to another. You never need to type this when entering an address.

www. Stands for World Wide Web, another name for the Internet – all websites are part of the world wide web.

communityeducationgroup is the name of the organization that runs the website. ,This will be part of the URL for any webpage that is part of our site. It tells you what web site you are on.
.org is the type of group that runs the website. It is also called a domain name. A .org site means that the website is owned by a non-profit organization.
§ .com means it is a corporation
§ .edu means it is a school or educational institution
§ .gov means it is a government agency

/programs/HIPS/tutorial are parts of the website. Each section, /programs, /HIPS, /tutorial , is a separate part of the site. This web page is in the Programs section of the site, because it is one of our programs. Specifically, it is part of our HIPS (Health Information Partners) program. And even more specifically, it specifies a tutorial! Every website has its own way of organizing information, so this part of the URL will vary.
And each webpage has a series of links to other pages, which have their own links to other pages and other web sites and on and on…. And each of these pages are written by people all across the world, with every opinion, every level of expertise and every reason for writing – from trying to sell something to trying to give the best, most accurate information.

How do I find the information I want?
There are two main ways to find the information you want. One is to go to a site that is trusted and verified by a healthcare provider. For instance, MedlinePlus, created by the federal government is an excellent resource.

The other best method is to do a search.

There are several tools to search the internet (called search engines), including and Google, for instance, scans through each page’s content, looks for sites that are most popular, and also looks for sites with the most links from other relevant sites. It does all the complicated work for you!

However, you need to be sure you choose a website that you can trust since Google will give you websites from organizations with health experience to organizations trying to sell you products

For instance, if you want to know how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, you could search “HIV/AIDS transmission how” for these results:

First, Google lists sponsored sites or ads, meaning that the organization that runs the website paid to have their website listed first. Sometimes these are bought by large companies, like drug companies. Other times they are bought by non profits to highlight their organization. Sponsored sites are also listed on the right hand side of the page.

Next, the most popular sites are listed. Each of the websites provides information about how HIV is transmitted. The last website listed is the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page on HIV Transmission.

Search tip: You do not have to type “How is HIV/AIDS transmitted?” – you could also search for “HIV/AIDS transmission how” or “Getting HIV/AIDS” or “HIV spread by” – any of these will turn up sites with the answer to how HIV is transmitted. The key is being able to verify the site is telling the truth.

How can I tell if information is true?
Ask yourself these questions when looking at a website:

1. Who runs the site?
Is it a corporation? A non profit? A university?
2. What is the goal of the site?
To provide health information? To sell medicine?
3. Who wrote the information?
Is it a doctor or other health professional?
4. Is the information an opinion or do they provide sources?
Do they tell you where they got their facts?
5. Is it current information?
What year was it written?


Let’s take a look at the first page on our search:

Even before we click on the link, we know it is a college, university or other school, because of the .edu, which I circled in red.

Clicking on the link brings us to this page:

Right now, we don’t know what school runs the site and we don’t know why it is providing HIV information. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page, no author is listed, and so far it hasn’t sited any sources. This site will take some investigating!

The first step is clicking on the Main AIDS Page link, which has the red arrow pointing toward it above. More information about who runs a site should always be listed on the Main Page, sometimes called ‘Home page’.

This site’s Main Page:

Here, we can find most of the information to our questions:

1. Who runs the site?
The University of Albany runs the site (see top red circle above) – which we can check is true by looking at the URL – the domain name is – this is part of the University’s official website.

2. What is the goal of the site?
On the bottom of the page it says it is ‘Provided as a service to the University Community by the Vice-President’s Advisory Council on AIDS Prevention’. The goal of the site is to provide HIV/AIDS information to students at the University of Albany. Because the goal is helping the student body, this site is probably a reliable source to find out about transmission. But we still don’t know the answers to the last three questions:
3. Who wrote the information?
4. Is the information an opinion or do they provide sources?
5. Is it current information?

To find out these questions, the next place to looks is the ‘About the Site’ page – I added the red arrow to point out its’ location.

About the Site page:

Can we answer the rest of the questions?

3. Who wrote the information?
The Web development team put together the site, and both are from the University of Albany School of Public Health. This means that while they are not doctors, they are probably qualified to write about HIV/AIDS transmission.

4. Is the information an opinion or do they provide sources?
The site does provide a source, the New York State Department of Public Health, but it says that ‘much’ information came from that source, not all of it. Some may have been influenced by opinion or less accurate sources.

5. Is it current information?
The website doesn’t say when it was created on this page. One last place to look? The information about who sponsored the site back on the main page:

Clicking on that link brings us to the following page:

And the answer to is it is NOT current information. It is from 1997 or 1998, and ten years is a long time for most health information. You should always try to find information from the last three years, at most.

What does this mean?
By answering the five questions, we found out that while the site has the purpose of providing accurate health information, and comes from a source that can be trusted, some of the information may be outdated or inaccurate. This doesn’t mean that the information on this site is necessarily bad, just that it would be a good idea to look at other sources as well. Looking at multiple sources is always best.

By going through the five questions for multiple websites, you can find the best information on the internet! And you can prevent the spread of inaccurate information.

How should I use health information found on the internet?
Health information found on the internet is not a replacement for a doctor or other health professional. But, it can be an excellent place to find accurate information about how to stay healthy, to learn when to see a doctor and to know what questions to ask your doctor.
By learning more about your health and health risks, you can take better care of yourself, your friends, and your family – and make sure they see a doctor when they need to.

Monday, March 29, 2010


...Here to protect you!

One of the challenges we face every day is encouraging people to protect themselves and wear the rubbers we distribute. Like we mentioned in the last post, at least 3% of DC residents are positive for HIV. Yet in this high risk city, only 30% use condoms.

Reasons why vary, from not wanting to pay to decreased pleasure. For women, who face a higher risk of HIV infection to begin with, encouraging their partner to wear a condom can be an issue of power - and poverty. Studies have shown that young women, especially single mothers, will put immediate needs such as shelter and food above long term risks, including HIV.

So what can we do? Our most effective approach is one on one conversations, hundreds of which happen every week in and around our mobile testing units. After discussing HIV risk factors, constituents are given condoms and encouraged to get tested.

We also provide free condoms in barber shops, salons and other locations where the District's Black community gather. We supply 150 locations with at least 100 condoms a week - distributing hundreds of thousands of condoms each year.

But this still isn't enough. We need discussions about safe sex to happen every where, every day - and we need condom use to be the good, strong, right thing to do.

Which is where our public awareness campaign - Rubberman - comes in. He's strong, he's Black, and he's the public face of our condom initiative. With advertisements in the Washington Informer, stickers for outside our condom distribution sites and his logo emblazoned on our outreach vehicles, we hope this new symbol will do his part to spark conversations and save the day.

Friday, March 26, 2010


We're a non profit in SE DC, located East of the Anacostia River on Pennsylvania Avenue. Our goal: transform our community one project at a time. Our mission: HIV prevention and education through community outreach.

With all the other issues faced by the neighborhoods of SE DC, from high unemployment to homelessness, why is our focus HIV?

At least 3% of DC's population is known to be positive for the virus. But with 25% of Americans having, and spreading, the illness without knowing it, the actual statistic is far higher. Living in the city with the top HIV/AIDS rate in the country, knowing your status and your partner's status is a necessity. And if you test positive, it's vital to get the services you need to stay healthy and prevent transmission.

That's where we come in. Our community has been hardest hit by the epidemic - and has been largely ignored. So we spread the word about this crisis, operating eight mobile testing units and parking them on street corners, in parking lots - anywhere people congregate in our community. And we talk to them about how to prevent transmission and encourage them to get tested - right there, right then. If they test positive, we make sure they get linked to the care and services they need.

And that's just one of our projects.

Each quarter, we train 10-30 recently incarcerated or high-risk individuals to become community health workers as part of our CHAMPS program. The "we" in the last paragraph? Many of our top outreach staff are graduates of this program, giving back to their community and dedicating themselves to saving lives.

Stay tuned for more on what we do and how we do it - and feel free to contact us anytime.