Kaiser Permanente Continues to Promote Community Based HIV/AIDS Testing

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Oakland, CA  – As part of its efforts to prevent new HIV infections in populations disproportionately affected by the epidemic, a fund established by Kaiser Permanente recently awarded $750,000 to 10 Northern California organizations offering HIV and AIDS education, prevention, testing, and connections to care. San Francisco’s Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center is among the recipients.

For the past 25 years, A&PI Wellness Center has been an anchor institution providing health, hope, and home for all under-served communities. They continue to educate, support, empower, and advocate for the most marginalized and vulnerable in our communities, particularly A&PIs and people living with HIV.

While HIV treatments offer more promise than ever before, the virus continues to hit certain communities hard, particularly African Americans, Latinos, youth, transgender people, and gay and bisexual men.

Kaiser Permanente has a long-standing commitment to help stop the spread of HIV, and to assist those with the virus to get connected with early, comprehensive care.

The grants start Dec. 1, the 25th observance of World AIDS Day.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that HIV and AIDS continue to disproportionately impact communities of color and youth. In the U.S., racial and ethnic minorities represent 70 percent of new HIV infections, and one-third of new HIV infections occur in people younger than 30.

“One in five people infected with HIV is unaware of his or her status,” said Michael Allerton, Operations and Policy Practice Leader, Infectious Diseases, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, citing statistics from the CDC. “Kaiser Permanente is proud to support this commitment to our communities by promoting organizations that are reaching out in innovative ways to populations most at risk for HIV to educate them about HIV and AIDS and encourage them to get tested.”

“It’s not just ‘those folks’; it’s about you” is the message that one of the grantees, San Francisco-based Black Coalition on AIDS, wants to communicate, especially to African-American and Latino youth, two groups with high rates of new HIV infections. So they bring their “It’s About You” workshops on HIV and AIDS to schools, youth centers, the city jail, and a workforce training center. The workshops offer information about HIV and AIDS, and provide access to HIV testing, counseling, and referrals for other services.

“We work to make health, and getting tested for HIV, a priority in a context when a person may not have a job, or a place to live, and to debunk the myth that it’s just gay men or IV drug users who contract HIV,” explained Adrian Tyler of the Black Coalition on AIDS. “Through this support we are able to reach more people in groups that are disproportionately affected by HIV. This makes a difference not only to the health of individual people but to the health of the whole community.”

Other grant recipients are using such innovative strategies as mobile testing at bars and nightclubs, peer outreach where friends encourage friends to get tested, and “opt-out” HIV testing at community clinics, which makes HIV testing a routine part of a medical visit. The grants were awarded by the East Bay Community Foundation through a fund established by Kaiser Permanente.

The full list of the 10 Northern California organizations receiving the $75,000, one-year grants:
§ Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center, San Francisco
§ Black Coalition on AIDS, San Francisco
§ California Prevention and Education Project, Oakland
§ Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services, Sacramento
§ HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County, Oakland, Richmond
§ LifeLong Medical Care, Oakland
§ Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific, Antioch, Richmond, San Francisco, Vallejo
§ San Joaquin County Public Health Services, Manteca
§ Tri-City Health Center, Oakland, Fremont, Hayward
§ Women Organized to Respond to Life Threatening Disease, Oakland

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