LifeWalk distributes record funds, awards top fundraisers from 2012 event

Elizabeth Trail’rs winning award at the LifeWalk Wrap-Up Party

LifeWalk announced a fundraising record $464,642 for its 2012 event and handed out awards to its top fundraisers and teams.

The LifeWalk Wrap-Up Party and check distribution took place at the Hilton Anatole on Nov. 7, a month after the Oct. 7 5K walk, run and festival in Lee Park.

The Dallas Voice Elizabeth Trail’rs placed first in the small business category. Team Captain Chance Browning said his team collected $9,601 and was also the ninth highest fundraising team.

The top team was Guys & Dolls, which raised more than $78,000. The Green Team placed second with more than $22,000.

John Gordon was the top individual fundraiser with $11,900. He was top individual fundraiser last year as well. Heather Thomas was second with more than $9,800. More than 250 individuals each raised more than $250.

LifeWalk is a fundraiser for AIDS Arms and partner agencies AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services Dallas, Bryan’s House, Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, Happy Nia, Legal Hospice of Texas, Resource Center Dallas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Youth First Texas.

—  David Taffet

GLBT Chamber hosts Business Expo, a chance to “get away from the elections”

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce expects this evening’s Business Expo at the Melrose to be its largest.

“It’s an opportunity for the community to meet GLBT chamber members and allies,” Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda said.

He said this year’s event will feature more exhibitors than ever and has expanded beyond just the ballroom into the Oak Lawn Room as well.

A broad spectrum of businesses and organizations will be represented. Community groups like AIDS Arms and C.U.R.E. will have tables. Southwest Airlines and major banks as well as professional services such as attorneys and therapists will be represented.

The event began as a mixer for Chamber members but has grown to an events attended by hundreds, Vedda said.

“Following the election, a large number of people in the community should be in a good mood,” he said. “Thankfully we can get away from the elections now.”

He invited people to come for a cocktail and meet and mingle with some local LGBT businesspeople. Valet parking and the event are free.

Melrose Hotel. Nov. 7. 4:30–7 p.m. Free.

—  David Taffet

AIDS Arms appoints new CEO

Dr. John T. Carlo

AIDS Arms has selected Dr. John Carlo as its new chief executive officer. Carlo has served in a number of leadership positions with medical and epidemiological organizations, including program director and principal investigator for the University of Minnesota’s BioWatch Program, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Carlo will begin at the agency December 3. He replaces longtime executive director Raeline Nobles, who is leaving the organization after more than 15 years.

In addition to his work with the BioWatch Program, Carlo’s experience includes serving as medical director and health authority for Dallas County Health and Human Services, as well as the position of Dallas County’s chief epidemiologist, where he helped oversee the creation and operation of a temporary clinic treating more than 10,000 patients during the evacuation of Hurricane Katrina.

“I am truly excited and honored to be joining AIDS Arms, an organization which has such a strong history of supporting our community in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Carlo said. ”I look forward to working with our dedicated board of directors and a talented staff as we continue the mission to provide outstanding medical and support services to clients and patients.”

Carlo completed his Doctor of Medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, followed by an internship and residency at Baylor University Medical Center.

“We were extremely fortunate to have Raeline Nobles serve us so well for the past 15 years. After a nationwide search led by Scott Chase, JD, to find her successor, I am very excited to have someone of the caliber of Dr. Carlo become our new CEO,” said AIDS Arms Board Chair John Loza. “His experience, intelligence and commitment will serve AIDS Arms well as we move into a new era.”

—  David Taffet

OraQuick home HIV test goes on sale

OraQuick’s flip chart instructions

Orasure’s new in-home OraQuick HIV test is now available in stores.

The test can detect HIV beginning three months after contact. Using it earlier than three months after a “risk event” may not produce an accurate result. Other rapid tests that can detect the virus within a few days of contact are still only available through a doctor or HIV testing facility such as  the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic or the Dallas County Health Department.

Ron Ticho, Orasure’s senior vice president for corporate communications, said this is the same test doctors and other testing facilities have used for 10 years. With more than 25 million tests done, OraQuick is more than 99 percent accurate, he said.

Since receiving approval to offer a home test kit in July, OraSure has trained phone counselors to answer questions and developed and revised its instructional material that comes with the test kit.

“We took some time to develop a test kit the consumer could use,” Ticho said.

He said the kits went through two tests — observed and unobserved. In the observed test, the company watched people open the package and test themselves as they followed the instructions. In the unobserved test, people took the kit home.

—  David Taffet

Miss LifeWalk 2012 crowned

Heather Thomas

The ninth annual Miss LifeWalk Pageant raised more than $20,000 for North Texas AIDS services that benefit from the annual walk. Heather Thomas was crowned Miss LifeWalk.

Tiaras, glamorous gowns and house rocking performances were in full effect at the Rose Room at S4.  The 2012 pageant was produced by the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk Team and hosted by Ima Lush and Victoria Weston.

Guys and Dolls co-captain Jerry McDonald said, “The Guys & Dolls team is so pleased that our charity pageant continues to grow and produces much needed funds for the clients of AIDS Arms, Inc and our Partner Agencies. Each year all the performers and contestants work very hard to create an evening of great talent and fun and without a doubt it gets better each year.”

The 2012 Miss LifeWalk Contestants were Miss Heather Thomas representing Guys & Dolls, Veda Chardonnay representing the Green Team, Brandi Amara Skyy representing Resource Center Dallas, Elizabeth Trail’r, representing the Dallas Voice Elizabeth Trail’rs and Sienna Silver representing Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Special guest performances included Victoria Westin, Jenna Skyy, Gloria Screamer and former Miss LifeWalk winners Anita Nother, Ima Lush, Lotta Pink and Sebrina Starr. The 2012 Miss LifeWalk winning categories are:

Miss Congeniality — Brandi Amara Skyy
Miss Spirit of LifeWalk — Brandi Amara Skyy
Miss Money Bags — Heather Thomas
Evening Wear Winner — Brandi Amara Skyy
Talent Winner — Brandi Amara Skyy
2nd Runner Up — Veda Chardonnay
1st Runner Up — Brandi Amara Skyy

Thomas raised $10,000 of the total alone. All proceeds generated from the pageant go toward LifeWalk, which takes place Sunday, Oct. 7, at Lee Park at 11 a.m. This year’s walk benefits AIDS Arms, Inc. and other partner agencies: AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Bryan’s House, Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, Happy Nia Dance Company, Legal Hospice of Texas, Resource Center Dallas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Youth First Texas.

—  David Taffet

Hudson and Voskuhl named parade Grand Marshals

Dr. Gene Voskuhl and the Rev. Jo Hudson

Dr. Gene Voskuhl and the Rev. Jo Hudson

The Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope and Dr. Gene Voskuhl of AIDS Arms were chosen as Grand Marshals of the 2012 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

Voskuhl just returned from the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. He said that recent studies show that being disenfranchised and stigmatized leads to greater incidents of HIV infection.

That’s why this year’s parade theme, “Pride Links Us Together” is meaningful to him.

“Be proud,” he said. “You’ll be happier and healthier.”

Voskuhl, who moved to Dallas five years ago, became the medical director of AIDS Arms last August. Gilead transferred him to Dallas from Oklahoma City. Before taking the position at AIDS Arms, he was in private practice with Uptown Physicians.

What he likes best about the Dallas LGBT community is how diverse and integrated it is throughout the DFW area. He said the community reaches into all professions and businesses and the variety of LGBT organizations that cover everything from social to health to religious activities.

Voskuhl is proud of the growth AIDS Arms has seen since he came on board a year ago. The agency’s two clinics now see 1,300 people and the goal is 2,500 by 2015.

“We’re looking to grow,” he said. “We’re only using half of our exam space.”

He said Trinity Clinic was expanding its labs and adding new equipment to provide results quicker and even offer services to other local medical offices. In addition, Metro Care has begun providing on-site mental health and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.

—  David Taffet

Razzle Dazzle Dallas distributes proceeds

Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund board, from left, D’wayne Teague, Tony Rox, David Hearn, Greg Wallace and John Cooper Lara

John Cooper Lara, chair of the Razzle Dazzle Dallas board, presented checks to beneficiaries of the June events at Sue Ellen’s on Monday evening.

The Metro Ball, which took place at S4 on June 8 and featured Taylor Dayne, raised $31,500 for the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. GDMAF provides financial assistance for critical needs through local organizations when other sources are exhausted.

Funds from the Saturday night street party were split among nine beneficiaries. Those organizations were Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, Turtle Creek Chorale, Cedar Springs Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage, GLBT Leap, Uptown Players and Legal Hospice of Texas. That party raised $25,000.

Razzle Dazzle Dallas board, from left, Jimmy Bartlett, Johnny Humphrey, Chris Bengston, Thom Dance, John Cooper Lara, Kris Martin, Ron Adams and Howard Okon

—  David Taffet

Local AIDS agencies send staff members to International AIDS conference

CNN’s Anderson Cooper, center, with, from left, AIDS Arms’ Nadia Molina, Mychael Patterson, Whitney Hynes and Kali Eszlinger

J.P. Cano

Several HIV/AIDS agencies from North Texas sent delegations to the International AIDS Conference that is being held in Washington, D.C. this week.

This marks the first time the conference is being held in the U.S. A ban on travel to this country by people with HIV that began in 1987 under the Reagan administration was lifted in 2010 by the Obama administration.

AIDS Arms has a delegation of 15 HIV prevention, medical care and health navigation professionals and a volunteer at the conference. The conference has more than a week of activities, marches, trainings, research presentations and networking opportunities, with thousands of professionals and HIV-positive individuals from around the world who work in the HIV field.

AIDS Arms’ delegation includes Drs. Gene Voskuhl and John Martin, Physician Assistant Alem Bayyan, HIV/STD Prevention Director Darriane Martin and her team, Joi Anene, Alexander Ortega and Ashley Innes, and its prison re-entry Director Daron Kirven and his team, Lisa Waitmon-Moses, Mychael Patterson, Nadia Molina, Allison Boyd and Edward Jones. Whitney Hynes, AAI’s Substance Abuse Health Navigator, and volunteer, Kali Eszlinger, complete the team.

Don Maison from AIDS Services Dallas is attending the conference as is J.P. Cano from Resource Center Dallas.

Cano, coordinator at RCD’s Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic, is one of 20 people from across the U.S. selected as a member of the AIDS 2012 Embajadores (Ambassadors) program, part of the “Mobilizing Latino/Hispanic Communities” initiative at the 19th International AIDS conference. The program identifies, mobilizes and supports the next generation of Latino/Hispanic leaders in the HIV/AIDS field.

The Afiya Center in South Dallas was selected to participate in the Global Village, which will be open to all conference participants. Women served by the organization will showcase their Living Positively Positive project, which focuses on improving health outcomes for women living with HIV/AIDS and those at greatest risk of becoming infected.

Executive Director Marsha Jones said, “The Afiya Center is extremely proud and honored that our activity was chosen to be part of theAIDS 2012 program.”

—  David Taffet

National HIV Testing Day events

HIV rapid test

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Here is a list of some of the locations where HIV rapid testing will be offered free:

Oak Lawn:

Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic
4012 Cedar Springs Road
10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Free rapid walk-in public testing, open to the public
214-528-0144

South Dallas:

Abounding Prosperity
2311 MLK Jr. Blvd.
2 p.m. –6 p.m.
Free rapid testing with UT Southwestern and Parkland also doing testing in the Red Bull tent. 97.9 The Beat will broadcast from the event.
An executive from the Centers for Disease Control will be in attendance and make remarks about 3 p.m.
214-421-4800

North Dallas:

AIDS Arms Mall Take-over Tour
Valley View Center
13331 Preston Road
10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Free HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia testing
HIP HOP 4 HIV concert tickets will also be available at this location

Fort Worth:

AIDS Outreach Center
400 N. Beach St., Fort Worth
9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Kaplan College
9 a.m.–8 p.m.
2001 Beach Street, Fort Worth
817-916-5229

Around the Metroplex:

AIDS Arms free rapid HIV testing in partnership with Walgreens Stores at these store locations:

5001 Ross Ave.
3 p.m.–7 p.m.
Free rapid HIV testing

2909 Lemmon Ave.
1 p.m.–5 p.m.

1651 West University, McKinney
3 p.m.–7 p.m.

AIDS Arms testing on these college campuses:

Free rapid HIV testing and education
Paul Quinn College
3837 Simpson Stuart Road
10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Collin College
2800 East Spring Creek Parkway, Plano
10 a.m.–3 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Avita Drugs opens at Trinity Clinic

Pharmacist-in-Charge Kent Helvey, left, and Pharmacy Technician Krystal Dorsey

Avita Drugs at Trinity Health and Wellness Clinic in Oak Cliff held its grand opening this week. Last year, the company merged with RX Partners, which has a store now also under the Avita name on Oak Lawn Avenue.

The company was founded in 2003 to specialize in HIV medications, according to Mike McBride, vice president of business development. He said that the company’s oldest pharmacy is attached to the NOAIDS Task Force clinic in New Orleans.

Avita also specializes in mental health, transplant and hepatitis medications, but is open to the public to fill any prescription.

McBride said that the company’s partnership with AIDS Arms helps them maximize their funding and stretch their services. In addition to traditional insurance, they are in-network with ADAP and Medicaid, as well as Resource Center Dallas’ co-pay assistance program.

COO Tim Jacobs said, “We accept multiple funding sources many pharmacies don’t want to deal with.”

Avita offers free delivery at no charge.

McBride said the company is putting together a financial assistance program to help patients in need with their co-pays and deductibles.

“We’ll roll that out in the next 30 to 60 days,” McBride said.

—  David Taffet