Atlanta Pride: How Impulse Atlanta is using traditional and non-traditional tactics to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS
This affinity group of the AIDS Health Foundation promotes sexual health and lifestyle wellness using modern social approaches.
By Allison Joyner
Rig Rush is the director of marketing for Impulse Atlanta and says that AHF’s methodology is to create a space for people to connect and provide them with resources about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with support and medical services if needed.
He says Impulse provides “an opportunity to create a brave space for gay men, regardless of their socioeconomic status, or their HIV status, to become connected and belong in a bigger mission.”
Founded in 2008, Impulse is a volunteer-based organization that collaborates with the AHF to help break barriers in communities with much-needed resources.
Being one of twenty-five chapters worldwide, Impulse Atlanta creates campaigns, events and online content to reach a new generation of LGBTQ+ individuals, especially gay Black men, who live in the southern U.S.
Remembering his first reaction to Impulse’s work, Rush said, “listening to them talk, it was their conviction and the integrity of what they were saying,” that motivated him to apply for the director of marketing position for the chapter.
With total funding from the AHF, Impulse Atlanta is a volunteer-only organization. That helps them create the necessary space to be stakeholders in this work.
Rush says that every 30 to 45 seconds, someone in metro Atlanta contracts an STI, and Impulse Atlanta uses a litany of tactics to encourage testing, education and the confidence to start the treatment process if needed.
Using the term “harm reduction,” Rush says that Impulse Atlanta goes out in the community to “meet them where they are.”
In addition to hosted events and activities like parties and yoga classes at Piedmont Park, a group of Impulse Atlanta volunteers talks to sex workers to inform them that they are here to help if they need medical attention or sex safety supplies like condoms.
Ensuring that people have a safety net is what Impulse Atlanta is all about, and Rush says it’s all about the individual men they help.
Impulse Atlanta is always looking for volunteers, but Rush says that education is crucial if you want to help reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the metro Atlanta area.
“Don’t just educate yourselves,” said Rush, “know the statistics and help educate yourself about the people. There’s somebody gay in your network whether you acknowledge it or not and if you don’t know it’s probably because you haven’t created space to interact with them.”
Since Impulse Atlanta does not take monetary donations, If you want to help, Rush suggests that you take your donated items to Out of the Closet thrift store on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta instead. Ninety-six cents of every dollar goes to patient and homeless care for those who have HIV/AIDS and free testing is available at some locations.
“Real change does not happen conveniently or comfortably,” that’s why Rush wants you to “be courageous” when it comes to being an active supporter of Impulse Atlanta’s endeavors.
“If you truly want to engage and truly want to be a force of change, it’s going to require you to come out of your comfort zone,” he adds.