Advocacy group Thrive SS launches a new app this week for Black gay and bisexual men living with HIV in metro Atlanta.
The “Thrive 365″ app lets users interact, ask questions, access resources, and indicate any food insecurity or housing needs. Thrive SS plans a soft launch on Nov. 2 and a full launch on Nov. 15.
“This app will connect Black same-gender-loving men not only to the resources they need but also to one another,” Thrive SS founder and executive director Larry Walker told Project Q Atlanta. “It provides a safe space to receive affirmation around our myriad intersections and interests and provides an outlet to express ourselves freely.”
The app is about a year in the making. The group’s members directly inspired it.
“They noticed how unsafe Facebook and other social media can be, especially for Black SGL men living with HIV, and wanted a space we could control,” Walker said.
The app is supported with funds from ViiV Healthcare, which offers community programs like microgrants benefiting young queer people living with HIV.
“THRIVE seeks to stay on the cutting edge of innovative support, advocacy and power building,” Walker added. “We feel the Thrive 365 app will serve as an essential tool for accomplishing our goals.”
Thrive SS launched in 2016 to support health equity for Black gay and bi men living with HIV in Atlanta. The nonprofit hosts events and health forums and provides numerous other services.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges and exacerbated existing ones for the group’s members.
“We heard of members who couldn’t pay their bills, get an appointment to see the doctor, get meds or even get through to someone to get their questions answered,” Walker said.
Housing insecurity became even more widespread. Stress and anxiety increased.
“Luckily, many agencies were able to course-correct pretty quickly,” Walker said.
Thrive SS partnered with Georgia AIDS Education & Training Centers and Theratechnologies to host trainings for patients and providers to address the issues. It also introduced a COVID-19 emergency fund to provide microgrants for clients to take care of essentials.
“In all, through the challenges, I feel COVID forced us to provide better, more comprehensive services,” Walker said.
Lil Nas X drops in
The group got a boost to its mission from none other than internationally recognized gay rapper Lil Nas X last month. The Atlanta native included Thrive SS and two other local HIV and LGBTQ advocacy groups on a “baby registry.” Fans were encouraged to make donations to celebrate his 2021 album drop, “Montero.”
Lil Nas X also stopped by Thrive SS’s office in East Point in October to show even more love.
Next up, Thrive SS joins with several other groups for the Trans Masculine Sexual Health & Wellness Ball on Nov. 19 at 840 ATL in West End.
“The event is a fundraiser for the participating orgs and will be unlike any House Ball competition before,” Walker said.