Project Silk is a service project for young adult gay, bisexual or transgender African Americans. It’s a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh and is run by Anthony Silvestre, PhD, and Mackey R. Friedman, PhD, MPH, of the department of infectious diseases and micobiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. Project Silk provides a safe, youth-centered space in downtown Pittsburgh and is open four nights a week. An on-site social worker is available and helps connect young people to important services such as housing, employment and health care. HIV testing and linkage to care are available during drop-in hours, and a private office can be requested. The project includes a mix of structured programming, such as civic discussion groups. There’s also unstructured time for young people to practice dance moves and prepare for house balls, which are competitive dance events.
Project Silk is also designing and evaluating a new behavioral intervention. It’s called Future Selves, which taps into existing house ball community structures to help young people think about and pursue positive futures.