Boston AIDS group pays clients to recruit at-risk contacts

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 20 2002 12:00 AM ET

Boston-based AIDS Action Committee's Peer Action Campaign has developed a unique way to encourage people to come in for HIV testing and other harm-reduction programs--by paying clients to encourage other at-risk individuals to seek the agency's services, The Boston Globe reports. Clients are given counseling on safer sex and drug use to reduce risky behaviors and are then provided three coupons to give to other community members they deem to be at risk. Clients receive $5 for each of their coupons returned by a new client, and $25 if all three coupons are returned. More than 1,000 new clients have received services from the agency during the past two years as a result of the program, say AIDS Action officials.

A study on the effectiveness of the program shows that condom use has increased substantially and the rate of sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol or drugs has fallen among recruited clients. The agency plans to spend $24,000 on the program this year. "Twenty-four thousand dollars buys us 500 deputies out there doing this work," said AIDS Action executive director Michael Duffy.