ARCW & EFA Announce Merger
On September 27 the AIDS Resource Center announced a merger with Saint Louis Effort for AIDS (EFA). The merger will enhance and expand programs and services for people at risk and living with HIV in St. Louis by bringing the HIV Medical Home to the area. The HIV Medical Home is an integrated model of health and social services that helps people living with HIV live long, healthy and full lives while reducing costs.
“EFA has a long-standing history in St. Louis of providing strong HIV prevention programs and services for people living with HIV,” said Michael J. Gifford, president and CEO of the AIDS Resource Center. “We are excited to join forces with them to expand services to the people of St. Louis. In January 2019 we will offer primary and HIV medical care, a mental health program, pharmacy, and critical social services that will work hand-in-hand with people living with HIV in and around St. Louis.”
In recent years, EFA has seen an increase in the demand for its programs and services as a record number of people are living with HIV. In St. Louis, there are 6145 people living with HIV; however, only 50 percent are regularly engaged in care according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Bureau of Reportable Disease Informatics.
“This merger will allow us to offer a new model of care to people living with HIV in St. Louis while also helping us better prevent new HIV infections, reduce AIDS-related deaths, stigma and other barriers to testing, care and treatment,” said Tawnya Brown, the new vice president of operations for the AIDS Resource Center who has 20 years of experience in HIV healthcare. “Additionally, through our partnership with Washington University and other organizations, we will make sure more people with HIV in St. Louis have access to all the HIV care and treatment they need to achieve viral suppression and optimal health.”
The merged organizations also announced their success in securing a $1.7 million grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The grant funds will aid in the success of the merger and help in the development and operation of the HIV Medical Home in St. Louis.
“This merger is exciting news for the City of St. Louis and we look forward to working with the AIDS Resource Center to help improve the health of our neighbors living with and at-risk for HIV," said Mayor Lyda Krewson. “Their model of providing quality healthcare, pharmacy access, social services and prevention will be a great addition to the outstanding network of organizations currently providing care."
The merger marks the twelfth location—between three states, Wisconsin, Colorado and now Missouri—for the AIDS Resource Center and was effective September 1. Gifford will continue to serve as president and CEO of the merged organization that will continue to operate in St. Louis under the name Effort for AIDS.
“Mike Gifford and I made dozens of presentations to key stakeholders on the benefits that an HIV Medical Home will mean for people living with HIV in the St. Louis metropolitan region. Each interaction helped forge genuine trust and respect for the work we look forward to doing as one organization,” said Cheryl Oliver, retired EFA Executive Director. “The clear message of optimism for enhanced services, a valuable spirit of collaboration, and dedication to delivering the best possible outcomes for people living with or at risk of being infected with HIV make this merger a clear win for our community.”
Patients, clients and others seeking information on the merger should visit stlefa.org.
A Successful AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run
Participants from across Wisconsin ran, walked and volunteered on Saturday, October 6 at the Summerfest Grounds for the 29th Annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin and 5K Run, raising $403,709 to support HIV prevention, care and treatment programs throughout the state.
AIDS Walk Wisconsin recognized individual walkers and runners, and also awarded the winners of three unique team competitions that challenged groups to raise funds for ARCW services.
The winner of the Raising the Bar Challenge is The Strongest Link II, with Taylor’s Milwaukee bar raising $5,445. The Raising the Bar Challenge is a friendly competition among bars and nightclubs across the state.
The team from Northwestern Mutual was this year’s winner of the annual corporate challenge, with a fundraising total of $10,968. Together, the teams in this challenge raised over $18,000.
The top individual fundraiser this year is Michael Bersch from Lake Havasu, AZ who raised $23,065. A Wisconsin native, Bersch, has flown in from Arizona to participate in this event for the past 12 years. He has raised a cumulative $150,000, something no other AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run registrant has done.
The team that raised the most pledges overall was the ARCW Staff, Friends and Family team which raised over $36,000 as of the time of this article.
Winners of the 5K run were Joshua Figurski (men) at 18:46 and Kerry Gordon (women) at 21:10.
This year’s event posted an all-time record for revenue from corporate sponsorship. Corporate sponsors included Presenting Sponsor MillerCoors; Premier Sponsor the Brewers Community Foundation; Major Sponsors Gilead Sciences, the ARCW Pharmacy, and SC Johnson Family Company; and Champion Sponsors Direct Supply, Green Bay Packers, Associated Bank, Ernst & Young, Abbott and Janssen Scientific.
Participants are still able to fundraise for AIDS Walks Wisconsin & 5K Run 2018. For every $100 that is either raised or donated to AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run now through the last out of the World Series, that individual will receive an entry into a drawing for an autographed Ryan Braun Milwaukee Brewers Jersey.
Today, it is estimated that 8,000 people are living with HIV in Wisconsin, with almost 1,500 unaware of their status. Recent studies have estimated that as many as one in seven people living with HIV are unaware of their HIV status.
Over the past 29 years, more than 130,000 registrants have participated in AIDS Walk Wisconsin and raised $13.4 million. One hundred percent of the pledges raised from AIDS Walk Wisconsin have stayed in Wisconsin to benefit people living with HIV.
Roma Hanson Retirement Honored
After 20 great years of leading the ARCW case management program, growing and expanding social services for people with HIV, implementing integrated care and initiating staff and organizational development efforts, Roma Hanson retired from ARCW at the end of August. Looking back over her two decades at ARCW brings nothing short of wonderful memories and a great dedication to the needs of the people we serve and the staff who work with them, due to her unyielding commitment to our vision of a world without AIDS.
Roma demonstrated significant generosity throughout her time at ARCW, especially through our special events and our annual fundraising appeals. In recognition of her unique and transformative commitment, ARCW is pleased to announce we are renaming the annual practice of providing our patients and clients with traditional holiday food baskets as the “Roma Hanson Holiday Meal Program.”
Stay-tuned for future information on how you can support this program and continue Roma’s legacy of service and giving at ARCW.
International Overdose Awareness Day Observed
International Overdose Awareness Day was observed across the world on Friday, August 31. Locally and across the globe, organizations worked together to raise awareness of the growing tragedy surrounding overdose deaths, and ways to prevent them.
ARCW participated and hosted events across the state of Wisconsin raising awareness, hosting naloxone trainings, and promoting the day online.
Staff from the Eau Claire office participated in a narcan training at New Season Treatment Center. In Green Bay, a local group hosted an awareness event called “Brandon’s Freedom Walk” that staff in northeastern Wisconsin supported.
In Kenosha, there were events across the county including an event hosted by the Kenosha County Opioid Task Force, and the Stop Heroin in Kenosha 3rd Annual event. Kenosha staff was also available for needle exchange and trainings.
In Madison there was a public narcan training with Safe Communities. Staff in the Milwaukee office hosted in-house events throughout the day, including quizzes and prizes to encourage participants to stop in.
There were other events across the state recognizing this important day.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opiates, please contact ARCW today at 800.539.9272 ext. 4007 for harm reduction services and information near you.
RMC Partners with Colorado Department of Health to Reduce New Cases of HIV and STIs
Rocky Mountain CARES recently began a new program in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to help reduce new cases of HIV and STIs.
RMC is now offering a nurse-run clinic to test and treat new cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis to prevent transmission. Patients coming to the clinic will also be tested for HIV. Individuals who are HIV-negative will be referred to RMC’s PrEP program, and people who are positive will be linked to care.
The capacity of public health organizations in Denver to serve people living with and at-risk for HIV and STIs is limited, with public health clinics turning away dozens of patients each week. People in need of STI testing and treatment will now be referred to Rocky Mountain CARES through the Disease Investigation Services (DIS) program at CDPHE, or from other community partners and clinics.
This new healthcare service at RMC is particularly relevant with STI rates having hit an all-time high in the United States. Additionally, gonorrhea rates in Colorado increased 98 percent in 2017 as compared to recent years.
Call Rocky Mountain CARES today at (303)393-8050 to schedule an STI screening appointment or to learn more.
ARCW Begins Food Pantry Partner Program
People living with HIV, and leaders of organizations providing healthcare and social services to them, continue to identify a clear need for expanded food services to address food insecurity. For these individuals, not having access to food services where they receive their HIV medical care was a barrier to access.
In response, ARCW now offers onsite food pantry services at other healthcare provider locations. This allows people living with HIV to pick up food orders at their main care site and eliminates the need for them to make an extra trip to ARCW to pick up food.
To date, three other HIV healthcare provider organizations have partnered with ARCW to set up “partner pantries.” Partner Pantries are now in place at these Milwaukee locations:
Froedtert HIV Clinic
Outreach Community Health
Milwaukee Health Services
ARCW tailored the pantry system to these partners according to what works best for each respective location. Currently all are limited to accepting/storing/dispersing nonperishable food only. Due to space constraints, food storage and safety issues, produce and frozen foods aren’t included in these orders. However, the food orders given at these sites have additional nonperishable food items so the amount received is equal to an order at ARCW.
This new system is also more time efficient, as oftentimes our partners’ case management staff have to make a trip to ARCW to pick up food for their patients. The new pantry system eliminates those trips.
Being able to access their needed food pantry orders is also another great incentive for patients to attend their vital HIV medical care appointments, and having food orders readily available to fulfill for patients during their appointments helps keep them engaged in care.
ARCW Partner Pantries are part of our ongoing commitment to building collaborative partnerships in the community.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Milwaukee Prevention Team Is Staying Very Active in the Community
This summer and early fall, prevention staff in Milwaukee have been extremely busy with events.
Starting off the summer, ARCW prevention staff collaborated with the Neighborhood House to host their Annual Summer Slam Block Party. This event had over 160 attendees of all age groups. ARCW staff tested 50 people at the event, which was filled with nature activities, food, games, dancing, and the energizing Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team.
Later in the summer, ARCW prevention staff planned the first ever Milwaukee LGBTQA Skate night. This event was another collaboration with the Neighborhood House and close to 90 people attended.
Both events received a lot of positive feedback and were a success in terms of the number of HIV test administered, conversations had around PrEP, and overall fun and engagement in the community. The prevention team is already planning to repeat these events soon, and coming up with other innovative ways to engage the community.
Keep Your Eyes Open for What’s Coming Next! Follow ARCW on Facebook to get the most up to date information on outreach events.
Dental Student Uses Wedding Shower to Help ARCW
Janette LaBelle, a Marquette University School of Dentistry student, pulled up to our HIV Medical Home in Milwaukee to deliver hundreds of toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, dental floss and oral hygiene supplies this past August. Janette is getting married this fall and in lieu of gifts at her wedding shower, she asked her friends and family members to bring oral hygiene supplies to donate to ARCW. Janette’s mom loaded the supplies in her car and drove all the way from her home in Connecticut to deliver the donated items to Milwaukee.
People living with HIV/AIDS have a compromised immune system making them highly susceptible to additional illnesses such as oral health complications. Many of our patients, 91 percent (91%) of whom live in poverty, do not have adequate access to oral hygiene supplies. The donation of oral hygiene supplies helps ensure more people in Wisconsin living with HIV get the high-quality oral healthcare they need to live a long and healthy life.
Otto Bremer Trust Renews Commitment to ARCW
Otto Bremer Trust (OBT) renewed its commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS in western Wisconsin with a two-year grant that will provide significant funding for services delivered at ARCW offices in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Superior.
Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, OBT is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by founder Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader. OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio. OBT has invested more than $600 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin.
Grant dollars from OBT will be used to deliver 1,250 HIV tests, and to educate over 10,000 at-risk individuals on how to protect themselves against contracting HIV. OBT funding also will ensure 230+ people living with HIV in western Wisconsin are connected to clinical care and wraparound social services including case management, food pantries, legal counsel, and housing assistance.
Fall into Fun with ARCW Autumn Events
One of AIDS Walk’s most-popular fundraisers, ARTPOP!, returned Sunday, September 30. Local artists created hundreds of pieces of original art on blocks of wood to raise funds for the Strongest Link II team for AIDS Walk Wisconsin. The event raised over $5,000.
Saturday, October 6 was AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run 2018 at the Summerfest grounds. Visit aidswalkwis.org. There’s still time to pledge. The event raised $403,790 for the fight against AIDS in Wisconsin.
On Sunday, October 14 in Madison the 10th Annual Blades Against AIDS event raised money for ARCW. The Madison Gay Hockey Association (MGHA) hosted the event at the Hartmeyer Ice Arena.
Wear your red on November 17. Madison's Red Dress Party is a celebration to raise awareness and funds in the global fight of HIV/AIDS. Only One Rule: You Must Wear Red! Proceeds benefit the 2019 AIDS Ride Wisconsin and ARCW.
Also save the date for Jolly Holly Folly! The fun-filled event returns Thursday, November 29 at the Marcus Theatre. Get your tickets today!
ARCW Nears Challenge Grant Goal
When you include ARCW in your estate plans and tell us about it, William Reinicker, a longtime ally of ARCW, will make an immediate contribution of $1,000 to ARCW, up to $10,000. Seven individuals have informed ARCW of their plans, meaning we are three away from reaching the $10,000 goal.
Informing us that ARCW has a place in your estate plans allows you to take advantage of a unique funding opportunity that ensures ARCW’s strength in the fight against AIDS into the future.
If ARCW already has a place in your estate plans, please inform us immediately and we will add your name to our listing of legacy leaders in our annual Honor Roll.
Click here to learn more.
EFA & ARCW Announce Merger
Client Service Impact