Impulse Group is an organization that’s dedicated to spreading awareness about safe sex and stopping the transmission of HIV in young men ages 18 to 35. In Florida, such a group is not just important; with our high HIV transmission rates, it is absolutely necessary.ImpulseTampaBay-Logo

Impulse Group South Florida began two years ago after Broward County placed at the top, or near the top, of many lists that tracked new HIV infections in the United States. Since then, the group has grown to three times its original size and expanded scope to include people in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties. Now, they’ve set their sights on Central Florida. The Impulse Group South Florida helped Orlando create its own chapter, and now they are doing the same for Tampa Bay. Impulse Group Tampa Bay began in earnest this past summer and now they are looking for a few good men to join their ranks.

I spoke with A.J. Alegria, president of Impulse Group South Florida, about the need for such a group in Tampa Bay and how you can join in this exclusive Hotspots interview.

Impulse-Tampa_AJ-AlegriaHow did you get the idea to start an Impulse Group in Tampa Bay?

Impulse is an international group and new chapters are created in response to data we receive and study. For example, out of the 25 metro areas with the highest HIV infection rates in the United States, year after year, we’ve found that four of those are right here in Florida: South Florida, Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville. We’ve already successfully launched Impulse Group Orlando, and they are doing so many fantastic things over there. After looking over the data again, we decided that the situation in Tampa Bay was far more pressing, so we chose Tampa Bay to focus on right now over Jacksonville.

How have you reached out to the community in Tampa Bay to get people aware of Impulse and its aims? 

The first thing we did was show up at St. Pete Pride and talk to people, and then we held Impulse-Tampa_AJ-copy1another interest meeting right after that. We found a lot of great interest but we found ourselves looking for one or two key leaders right away. When you are part of an organization that has an annual budget, you want to focus your energies on finding two business-minded people who can create synergy with the brand and run business affairs. We haven’t found anyone to run the group yet, but we are hopeful, because we’re still in the recruiting process. Because the message of Impulse Group is so important, we’re looking for a strong level of dedication from the people who are wishing to become a part of it.

What are you looking for in prospective members?

Impulse-Tampa_AJ-copy2First off, we want to make sure that people are comfortable with being associated with the topic of HIV. In South Florida, as soon as many people were tagged in Impulse Group photos, people were asked if they were HIV-positive, which some people handled with grace and for others it was more difficult, and that’s fine, but we want to make sure that members are prepared to handle being associated with HIV and AIDS advocacy. It’s not always easy and it’s not always friendly or warm or fuzzy. Members should be able to be confident in spreading the Impulse Group’s message and be able to stand on their own two feet in that regard.

Where do you see Impulse Group Tampa Bay in the next six months?

If we have the group assembled in time, we’d love to have our launch event after the beginning of the year. Typically our launch events happen around the early spring, March or April, when people are out and about and the weather is still nice. Ideally that’s what I’d like to see happen in Tampa Bay, and hopefully in six months everyone will be hearing about our launch event.

For more information on Impulse Group, visit impulsegrp.org. If you’re interested in joining, write them a note on their Facebook page! “Like” Impulse Group Tampa Bay on Facebook by going to facebook.com/impulseTbay.