ACT & St. Jude LIFE sign

SMILE + Connect to Protect

Memphis, TN

Target Population

Youth, ages 12-24






  • Community-oriented primary care

HIV Care Continuum


  • Connect to Protect coalition partners


Connect to Protect® (C2P) is a national research initiative that seeks to mobilize communities around the nation to examine the root causes of HIV among young people (ages 13-24) and to develop long-term solutions to preventing the spread of HIV. It was launched in 2001 with the purpose of linking local researchers and community members around the growing crisis of HIV/AIDS among youth.

C2P mobilization efforts bring together diverse sectors of the community to form coalitions and to develop local strategic plans focused on reducing HIV risk by making structural changes. These structural changes include changes in programs, laws, policies, and practices on the community, city, and state level.

C2P-Memphis provides HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for adolescents, including HIV/STI screening and testing, mental-health services, social-support services, and case management/care coordination. The initiative coordinates with more than 20 community partners, including SMILE (Strategic Multisite Initiative for the Linkage and Engagement of HIV-Positive Young MSM), which is a partnership between St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Shelby County Health Department.

The SMILE program provides linkage-to-care (LTC) services and intensive case management that addresses barriers to accessing and remaining in care for Black same-gender-loving men who live in Memphis and surrounding areas. The LTC coordinator who administers the program has extensive experience and knowledge of the local health department, which makes it possible to speed up the transfer of medical records between the clinic and the health department. This helps reduce the time between a patient’s confirmatory HIV test and the first medical appointment.


Community Outreach & Education

C2P and SMILE staff members and community partners conduct outreach and offer sexual-health education within the local community, including in schools, clubs, and places of worship. The SMILE LTC coordinator uses text messaging to engage patients about their individual needs (e.g., housing referrals, Ryan White, and Affordable Care Act applications and sign up) and to remind patients of upcoming medical appointments.

Sexual Health Services

Patients that participate in the SMILE program receive ongoing risk-reduction counseling, HIV and STD/STI screenings, referrals for personal/professional development resources, and other health services necessary to develop comprehensive, individualized health and wellness plans.

C2P/SMILE offers the following HIV and STD/STI screening to clients:

  • Confidential HIV antibody test (via community partners)
  • HIV Nucleic Acid Testing (which can detect HIV infection much sooner than other tests)
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis C
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Vaccinations for Hepatitis B and HPV


St. Jude Children’s Hospital provides numerous services to patients free of cost, including transportation, food vouchers, and housing referrals. In addition, SMILE assists with patient referrals for the following services:

  • Care coordination
  • Behavioral interventions
  • Domestic violence prevention/services
  • Educational and employment services (Job Corps)
  • Family counseling
  • Food pantries
  • Antiretroviral therapy support and information
  • Housing services
  • Medicaid enrollment
  • Spiritual counseling
  • Social services
  • Transportation services
Southeast Asian man standing in front of foliage

"You cannot always define what makes an LTC worker appealing to youth. It is people who love what they are doing, who are able to speak the language of the youth, and who are ready to meet them wherever they are."

Dr. Aditya Gaur, MD, Clinical Director, Principal Investigator

C2P infographic
C2P infographic

Other Featured Innovations

A Black man smiling while walking

Two of Indianapolis’ oldest HIV-service organizations join forces to offer targeted linkage services for local Black LGBT communities.

A man dancing while others watch

In downtown Pittsburgh, a recreation-based community health center unapologetically centers the needs of Black LGBT patients as it delivers sexual-health services.

A Black man on a skateboard

Oakland is onto something great with the CRUSH project, an integrated sexual-health clinic created by and for LGBT youth of color.