Mountain Climber Summer

Community Education Group Premiering New “People Worth Knowing” Video Series

CEG’s new video series, People Worth Knowing, will launch on May 20th, 2020.

People Worth Knowing will feature three-to-five-minute interviews with people from West Virginia, across the nation, and around the world with a wide variety of backgrounds, lived experiences, and fields of work, including users unions, Rural Health Service Providers, child services, trans health, and many others.

People Worth Knowing will launch simultaneously across CEG’s new YouTube channel, our website, and our social media pages on Wednesday, May 20th, 2020, with new videos launching on Wednesdays.

Logos of Astho and the National Coalition of STD Directors

National Health Organizations Announce COVID-19 Contact Tracing Training

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) announced the launch of a free, on-demand training for entry-level COVID-19 contact tracers.

The course, Making Contact: A Training for COVID-19 Contact Tracers, will support ongoing public health agency efforts to prepare new contact tracers for their work of helping identify COVID-19 positive cases and those with whom they have been in close contact.

Contact Amanda Dennison ( with any questions on the training.

Logo of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University

Take The QUICk Survey – Quickly Understanding Impacts of COVID-19

The purpose of this study is to learn how the novel coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19) has impacted your life. Full information about this study is available in the informed consent document below.

At the end of the survey, you will be asked if you would like to be entered into a raffle for a $100 Amazon gift certificate using the email address you provide. If so, please indicate YES.

Logo of Black South Rising

Take the Black Southern HIV Survey

NOTE: Only residents of the following states are eligible to participate:
Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas

(From our friends at Black South Rising)

Black South Rising is a collective of advocates working in the South to raise the visibility of Black HIV movement leaders in the region.

We recognize the urgency and necessity of reframing the narrative around addressing the epidemic in our region. You are invited to participate in a survey designed by members of the Black South Rising Working Group to inform our advocacy agenda.

The purpose of this survey is to gather information from Black advocates and community members working in the South about how to support HIV movement-building efforts. It is estimated that this survey will take about 10 minutes to complete.

In appreciation of your participation and completing this survey, you will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card. Thank you in advance for your consideration. The survey can be found at:

We appreciate the support, and would also appreciate you sharing it out to your network.

If you have any questions, please contact: Charles Stephens:

One-Lane Country Road

Community Education Group’s Community Perspectives Blog Going Live

Community Education Group will be launching its new blog, Community Perspectives, on May 18th, 2020.

Community Perspectives will focus on the issues that impact the work CEG does in West Virginia, nationally, and globally, and will feature weekly articles by CEG’s staff, including Founder & Executive Director, A. Toni Young, West Virginia Policy Coordinator, Marcus J. Hopkins, and Project Coordinator, Ty Williams. We will also feature one guest column each month, from people whose work creates a huge impact on the lives of the people we serve.

Check back on Monday, May 18th, 2020, for our inaugural post from our fearless leader, A. Toni Young, with new posts coming out each Monday.

Logo of National Hepatitis Testing Day, held on May 19th, 2020

Community Education Group Recognizes Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and CEG is participating by raising awareness of how the opioid and meth addiction crises in West Virginia intersect with the state’s grim record for having the highest rates of new Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) diagnoses in the United States.

In 2017, West Virginia reported the highest rates of new Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections in the U.S., with rates of 11.7 (per 100,000) and 5.6 (per 100,000), respectively. The national rate of new infections for both diseases is 1.0.

That same year, West Virginia had both the highest rate of overall drug overdose deaths (57.8 per 100,000), and the highest rate of opioid-related drug overdose deaths (49.6 per 100,000) in the U.S. The national overall and opioid-related drug overdose deaths are 21.7 and 14.5, respectively.

These statistics are not unrelated.

According to the West Virginia Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services, a majority of cases of both HBV and HCV reported injection drug use and/or street-drug use as the primary risk factor for transmission (OEPS, 2018).

CEG is working tirelessly to bring attention to West Virginia’s syndemic of Substance Use Disorder, HBV, HCV, and HIV, as well as the work of our state’s various Harm Reduction Programs – those run by both county health departments, non-profits, and Rural Health Service Providers.

Stay tuned to #CEGInWV’s website and social media pages as we reveal the exciting projects we have in store for both West Virginia and across the nation. While you’re waiting, be sure to get tested for Hepatitis on National Hepatitis Testing Day – May 19th, 2020.


West Virginia Office of Epidemiology & Prevention Services. (2018, April). HEPATITIS B AND HEPATITIS C INFECTION IN WEST VIRGINA 2016 – Surveillance Summary – April 2018. Charleston, WV: West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources: Bureau for Public Health: Office of Epidemiology & Prevention Services: Hepatitis: Data and Surveillance: Summary Reports. Retrieved from:

AIDS 2020 Virtual Conference Logo

COVID-19 and HIV

COVID-19 has raised myriad questions
across the healthcare landscape, but
especially in the HIV community. For
people living with HIV, each new virus
represents an unknown set of variables,
each of which must be considered by
both patients and providers.

The International AIDS Society has put
together this helpful primer on HIV and
COVID-19 which answers many of these
questions. Check it out at the link below,
and learn more about Virtual AIDS
2020 – the 23rd Annual International
AIDS Conference here. The conference
will be held July 6-10, 2020.

COVID-19 and HIV: What you need to know
From: International AIDS Society

Wooden Grist Mill in the Fall

Communicating Public Health Messages Through Community Engagement

Any time there’s a public health crisis, healthcare officials are faced with the challenge of how best to communicate messages to the public. With that in mind, CEG has sourced two articles focusing on how to communicate public health messages both on social media and in rural settings—areas where CEG is working tirelessly to communicate with folks in West Virginia.  Check out the links, below:

Social Media in Public Health: A Vital Component of Community Engagement
By: Mark R. Miller, William D. Snook, and Elizabeth Walsh

Community Engagement Toolkit for Rural Hospitals
From: Washington State Hospital Association

Bridge with mist and the CEG logo and website

So, I’ve Been Thinking: What COVID-19 Reveals About Our Public Health System

CEG Founder & Executive Director, A. Toni Young, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

So, I’ve been thinking about how none of us can truly avoid the impact of COVID-19. Either we know someone who’s been impacted by it, or we have been impacted by it ourselves, or maybe we are now working from home, even reconfiguring our whole organizations and the way we do our work. Everybody is impacted—but I’ve been thinking especially about how COVID-19 impacts the most vulnerable, and what this shows about the gaps in our health system.

It is no surprise that already-vulnerable groups need protection during this pandemic. CEG’s mission is built around addressing social, economic and environmental factors that generate health disparities in low-income communities, among people of color, and in marginalized groups such as the LGBTQIA+ community. That mission is also what ultimately led CEG to expand its operations beyond urban communities of color.

It turns out that poor rural communities in states like Louisiana, West Virginia, Missouri, and Mississippi actually have a lot in common with poor urban communities, in terms of vulnerability due to underlying social determinants of health. Yet some poor and rural states have been slower to respond to the pandemic, perhaps in part because lower population density in rural areas may seem to mitigate risk. Unfortunately this can lull people into a false sense of security, causing them to neglect taking precautions like physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands.

Rural areas also tend to have fewer doctors and nurses. Here in West Virginia, almost 20% of adults do not have a personal doctor or primary care provider. This shortfall could result in underreporting, as well as making it harder for people to get referrals for testing. Even when people do have doctors, transportation issues can limit their access to healthcare services. Add to that factors like poverty, food insecurity, low rates of literacy and education, and frequent distrust of government, and you begin to understand how vulnerable these communities can be. The COVID Community Vulnerability Map created by the healthcare analytics company Jvion illustrates this clearly.

These parallels between vulnerable urban and rural communities make it clear that even while many of us advocate for different demographics and constituencies, we can and must come together in our response to COVID-19, just as we must unite in responding to ongoing threats such as HIV, hepatitis, and opioid use. We can no longer afford to operate in isolation, or respond in isolation when a crisis hits. We all need to work together to ensure that our citizens are protected and cared for.

At CEG, we hope to start up a “getting to know you” webinar series about these common struggles shared by disparate communities whether they urban or rural, black or white. But that’s just the beginning. If we are going to become more resilient, we have to absorb the lessons COVID-19 is teaching us about our health system. As recently noted by Hanna Love and Jennifer S. Vey of the Brookings Institution, in moving forward we should “adopt service-based systems or outreach-team approaches that connect people with permanent supportive housing, employment training, child care subsidies, doctors and therapists, and financial and budgeting assistance.”

To accomplish this, we will need to fashion a network of responders for our communities that is diverse. We will need to look at what we have and what we can bring to the collective. If we come together and we work together on goals like improving mobility and portability of services, we can reach the people who are in the greatest need. Some of these people are poor, black or brown, living with HIV. Others are white, rural, drug users. All of them need us to work collectively, reimagine how we address health crises, and build a stronger and fairer system that can help prevent such crises in the future. That’s how we get better and stay better: together.

Community Education Group's COVID-19 Infographic

Community Education Group Launches COVID-19 Best Practices Infographic For Harm Reduction Programs

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) forces society to engage in preventative measures such as social distancing, #CEGInWV has created a Best Practices poster for use by Harm Reduction Programs offering services to People Who Use Drugs during this pandemic. In this time of uncertainty, it is imperative that those operating HRPs do everything in their power to ensure the safety of both their staff and their clients, as well as engage clients in best practices to stay safe while using.