About CHS

The Center for Haitian Studies (CHS) is a duly registered non-profit, tax-exempt health and social service organization founded in 1988 for the purpose of serving the disenfranchised populations of Little Haiti/Little River in Miami, Florida. In keeping with its mission, CHS provides a wide range of services to members of the population including health education, health services free of charge to indigents, psychosocial counseling, case management, home-delivered meals, food bank, direct financial assistance and transportation. Other services provided by the Center for Haitian Studies to the general population include crime prevention, literacy, case management, cultural adaptation and counseling services for new immigrants who arrived in Florida after 1994. Over the past seventeen year, CHS has received more than twenty million dollars in grants from various federal, state and local entities such as the Centers for Disease Control, Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami Community Development Block Grant, HOPWA, the University of Miami Area Health Education, the Health Foundation of South Florida, the Dr. John T. MacDonald Foundation and the Dade Community Foundation. As early as of 1989, the Center for Haitian Studies was renown as the main provider of HIV/AIDS-related services to Haitian Americans living in Dade County and has become a unique resource center for the provision of direct support services to the underserved population of Little Haiti/Little River affected by HIV/AIDS.

 

CHS during the early days of HIV/AIDS

 

As the AIDS epidemic took its toll on the multi-ethnic community of South Florida, a high rate of HIV infection was observed among Haitians living in Miami-Dade County. Confusion about the causes of these cases among Haitians led scientists and the general public to consider "being Haitian" as a risk factor for contracting and transmitting HIV. Because of this systematic blame on their nationality, Haitians reacted by perceiving AIDS as a conspiracy against them because they were unwanted immigrants in the United States. CHS's community roots created a place for the agency as one that could be trusted by Haitian Americans who felt stigmatized elsewhere. One of the goals of CHS was to improve the conditions of those affected by HIV in the Haitian community. During that period, CHS laid the foundation of what has become the only nationally known successful counseling program for Haitian Americans affected by HIV/AIDS. Providers in other cities with large populations of Haitians, including Port-au-Prince, New York, Boston and Montreal, have used this model to provide these types of services to Haitians.

 

Given the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in the Haitian community, CHS's growing caseload of clients receiving services was an outstanding accomplishment for the agency. During a visit by the National AIDS Committee in 1996, a number of CHS clients communicated eloquently to the White House delegation their frustration, the pain they endured dealing with HIV, and the lack of resources available to them in the community. They discussed the deficiencies in the system and made suggestions about changes they would like to see. The fact that CHS's Haitian American clients openly discussed their HIV status with other clients and with counselors was considered to be a major milestone.

 

Cultural competence was key. All CHS staff who were involved in program planning or who had direct contact with clients were sensitive to Haitian culture and values, particularly to the history of the Haitian community with respect to HIV. CHS board and staff members were experienced in the provision of health care services, counseling, case management, as well as research and educational services. They had full understanding of issues related to Haitian beliefs and risk practices impacting HIV transmission. Staff members having direct contact with clients and the public were fluent in both English and Creole.

The Center for Haitian Studies (CHS) is a duly registered 501c3 organization, tax-exempt health and social service organization founded in 1988 for the purpose of serving the disenfranchised populations of Little Haiti/Little River in Miami, Florida.

Tel: +1(305) 757 9555

Fax: +1(305) 756 8023

Center For Haitian Studies
8260 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33138