AIDS Arms announces plans for expansion

Posted on 22 Apr 2010 at 3:12pm
By STAFF REPORTS editor@dallasvoice.com

‘Call to Arms’ campaign initiated to raise funds for new clinic, services

Raeline Nobles

AIDS Arms Inc. has launched its new "Call to Arms" designed to curb the rising AIDS epidemic and its ongoing impact on the DFW community’s physical and financial health, AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles has announced.

Nobles said the new effort was prompted by Dallas County’s ranking as the area with the largest number of newly reported HIV infections in Texas, and the fact that 7,000 new HIV cases are predicted by 2012.

She said the "Call to Arms" campaign encompasses expansion of the agency’s HIV-related medical, prevention and social support services, including establishing a new medical clinic in Oak Cliff in early 2012.

The campaign includes a $8 million, four-year plan to establish the new facility and expansion of services.

"The HIV epidemic in Dallas is reaching crisis levels in terms of our city’s health status, economics and quality of life," Nobles said in a statement released this week. "HIV impacts every one of us today in huge ways.

"By the year 2012, there will be more than 25,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in our area. It will take all of us working together with a commitment to hard work, wisdom and investments to create a healthier, safer community for our families, friends and neighbors," she added.

Nobles said that lack of quality, accessible medical care has a rapid impact on the health and stability of HIV-positive people, drastically increasing their risk of transmitting the virus to others.

"Our best prevention efforts are to create greater access to specialized HIV medical care, education and support," Nobles said.

Dr. Keith Rawlings, medical director at AIDS Arms Peabody Health Center, said the agency needs to expand availability of medical services because the clinical demands of people living with HIV have outgrown the current clinic facilities.

At present, AIDS Arms has three centers in Dallas that assist a total of 3,300 people with outpatient medical care and support, Nobles said. The main office is located on Sunset Avenue, near Zang Boulevard, in Oak Cliff and the Peabody Health Center is located near MLK Boulevard and South Central Expressway in South Dallas. The third facility is in the Central Dallas area.

AIDS Arms served another 4,000 people last year through its HIV/STD prevention outreach and testing programs.

Nobles said that the immediate goals for of the "Call to Arms" campaign are to meet some of the most pressing needs identified in the community, and to develop a management structure, professional staff, technical infrastructure, information systems and facilities necessary to support planned expansion.

She said AIDS Arms’ initial efforts will lead to a long-term initiative to elevate its roles in the regional, national and international fight against HIV/AIDS.

Nobles estimates that AIDS Arms has saved local hospitals more than $6 million in indigent emergency room and inpatient costs through its outpatient and case management services.

She said it costs about $2,800 for one HIV-positive person to receive a full year of care and support from AIDS Arms, not including medications, while an HIV-positive person not under regular medical care would incur an average bill of $12,000 for just one emergency room visit.

Nobles acknowledged that the planned expansion has to be funded, and said AIDS Arms has assembled a resource development team "as diverse as Dallas" to come up with the money, naming TV personality and hi-tech guru Mark Bunting as fundraising chair.

Mark and Kelly Bunting will host the campaign’s kickoff on Wednesday, April 28, at 7 p.m., at their private residence.

AIDS Arms has already obtained a $250,000 grant from the Meadows Foundation and another investment from the King Foundation for its new clinic.

For more information contact Margaret Byrne at mbyrne@aidsarms.org or 214-521-5191.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 23, 2010.

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