HIV orgs ex­pand:

HIV/AIDS or­ga­ni­za­tions adapt­ing to meet needs of LGBT com­mu­ni­ties

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

AID At­lanta, Pos­i­tive Im­pact add new ser­vices

Two At­lanta-area HIV/AIDS or­ga­ni­za­tions are tak­ing ma­jor steps for­ward in their growth and dra­mat­i­cally ex­pand­ing ser­vices to those af­fected by HIV and those in the greater LGBT com­mu­nity.

Pos­i­tive Im­pact is mov­ing to a new lo­ca­tion that’s nearly 50 per­cent larger and will al­low its staff to of­fer be­hav­ioral health, pri­mary care and HIV risk re­duc­tion ser­vices for its clients all in one place.

“That’s go­ing to be a huge deal for us,” said Michael Baker, Pos­i­tive Im­pact’s di­rec­tor of ad­vance­ment. “[Clients will] re­ceive almost all the ser­vices they need in one lo­ca­tion, and it en­ables the providers to ac­cess the same clin­i­cal chart so every­body can see what’s go­ing on with a client so noth­ing slips through the cracks.”

Cost for the move is es­ti­mated at about $30,000 that comes from a com­bi­na­tion of in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions and grants, Baker said.

The on-site HIV spe­cialty pri­mary care will be pro­vided by Pos­i­tive Im­pact’s long­time part­ner AID Gwin­nett/Ric Craw­ford Clinic start­ing Nov. 1.

“Pro­vid­ing on-site HIV spe­cialty pri­mary care will open a new point of health care ac­cess for the nearly 300 in­di­vid­u­als that Pos­i­tive Im­pact’s MIS­TER Cen­ter iden­ti­fies as pos­i­tive each year. Pos­i­tive Im­pact’s cur­rent and fu­ture clients will ben­e­fit tremen­dously,” said AID Gwin­nett/Ric Craw­ford Clinic Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Larry Lehman in a pre­pared state­ment.

The MIS­TER Cen­ter is a Pos­i­tive Im­pact pro­gram that caters specif­i­cally to gay and bi­sex­ual men in met­ro­pol­i­tan At­lanta.

AID At­lanta and Pos­i­tive Im­pact will also work to­gether to pro­vide HIV test­ing at At­lanta Pride. Last year, they tested more than 1,100 peo­ple over the week­end and they ex­pect even more this year. Pos­i­tive Im­pact typ­i­cally tests about 400 clients in an en­tire month.

The ex­pan­sion, the plan­ning of which be­gan last Oc­to­ber, is another step in the growth of Pos­i­tive Im­pact since open­ing its doors in 1993 pri­mar­ily to pro­vide men­tal health coun­sel­ing ser­vices for those liv­ing with HIV. Since then, it has added a sub­stance abuse treat­ment pro­gram, risk-re­duc­tion ser­vices for those liv­ing with HIV, HIV test­ing and STD screen­ing and treat­ment.

There will be two phases to the ex­pan­sion. The or­ga­ni­za­tion will take over the first floor of the new build­ing the first week of Oc­to­ber and then open up on Oct. 6. Then the sec­ond phase will be­gin in Novem­ber or De­cem­ber when Pos­i­tive Im­pact will take over at least half of the sec­ond floor. Once both phases are com­plete, the or­ga­ni­za­tion will have gone from 11,000 square feet at the pre­vi­ous lo­ca­tion to almost 16,000 square feet in the new one.

“I re­ally think the clients are go­ing to re­spond fa­vor­ably to it,” said Baker. “We re­ally can’t wait to show it off.”

The group will in­ter­rupt ser­vices for the move start­ing Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. and re­sume ser­vices in the new lo­ca­tion on Oct. 6 at 9 a.m.

AID AT­LANTA EX­PANDS SER­VICES BEYOND HIV/AIDS

AID At­lanta is broad­en­ing its scope and is mak­ing the trans­for­ma­tion from an HIV/ AIDS ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion to a com­pre­hen­sive $700,000 health cen­ter of­fer­ing pri­mary care to the Mid­town At­lanta com­mu­nity. The new AID At­lanta Health Cen­ter and Mark B. Rin­der Cen­ter for Well­ness will have its grand open­ing on Oct. 9.

“Our core mis­sion will still be to stop the spread of HIV and one day find a cure,” said Jose Ro­driguez-Diaz, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of AID At­lanta.

But the or­ga­ni­za­tion wanted to ex­pand by ad­dress­ing the many other health is­sues af­fect­ing the LGBT com­mu­nity.

“Gay men are dy­ing more of anal can­cer, or prostate or rec­tal can­cer, than they are of HIV,” Ro­driguez-Diaz said. “Our les­bian com­mu­nity is dy­ing more of vagi­nal can­cer and uter­ine can­cer than HIV. So we are group­ing it into a mis­sion to re­ally look at other chronic ill­nesses that af­fect our com­mu­nity and are killing our com­mu­nity more than just HIV dis­ease.”

The pri­mary care ser­vices will be pro­vided by a new team of providers, in­clud­ing a new in­ternist who is board cer­ti­fied in in­fec­tious dis­eases, a nurse prac­ti­tioner with HIV and women’s health care ex­pe­ri­ence, and a part­time psy­chi­a­trist. AID At­lanta also be able to of­fer lab­o­ra­tory ser­vices as well as ra­di­o­log­i­cal ser­vices like X-ray and ul­tra­sound.

The Mark B. Rin­der Cen­ter for Well­ness is named for the long­time board chair who stepped down from the po­si­tion ear­lier this year but still has a seat on the board and con­tin­ues to of­fer fi­nan­cial and other support to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The Rin­der Cen­ter will of­fer holis­tic care, chi­ro­prac­tic ser­vices, phys­i­cal ther­apy, mas- sage ther­apy, acupunc­ture, and, through a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Project Open Hand and Good Mea­sure Meals, med­i­cal nu­tri­tional ser­vices.

The plan­ning for the $700,000 ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion of ser­vices be­gan shortly after Ro­driguez-Diaz came on board this past Jan­uary.

“My charge when I was hired was to find a way to build a sus­tain­abil­ity plan for AID At­lanta that aligned with the Af­ford­able Care Act,” said Ro­driguez-Diaz.

The pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm Deloitte of­fered the or­ga­ni­za­tion a pro bono en­gage­ment and helped the or­ga­ni­za­tion de­sign a business plan to help AID At­lanta achieve its goal.

Their bank­ing part­ner Wells Fargo then ap­proached the or­ga­ni­za­tion to come up with a pack­age that will fund the business plan, and within three months AID At­lanta agreed on a pack­age that in­creased their line of credit.

“They came to us and felt strongly as a com­mu­nity part­ner that they wanted to support us in the process,” Ro­driguez-Diaz said.

But AID At­lanta isn’t done ex­pand­ing yet. In Jan­uary, it will be mov­ing the Evo­lu­tion Project, its pro­gram which ser­vices young African-Amer­i­can men, to a new space on Spring Street that cur­rently serves as cam­paign head­quar­ters for Demo­cratic U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Michelle Nunn.

Pos­i­tive Im­pact is spend­ing some $30,000 in its move to this new lo­ca­tion on West Peachtree Street and will be­gin its ex­panded ser­vices Oct. 6. AID At­lanta will re­veal its new $700,000 health cen­ter on Oct. 9. (Photo by Pa­trick Saun­ders)

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