Top 10: N. Texas helped mark AIDS anniversary

AIDSat30

HOLDING VIGIL | Hundreds gathered for a commemoration in downtown Dallas on World AIDS Day.

No. 5

In 2011, the world marked three decades of AIDS. It was June 5, 1981, that the Centers for Disease Control first reported on five cases in which otherwise healthy young men, all gay, had been treated for pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at three separate Los Angeles hospitals since the previous October, with two of them dying of the disease. A month later, on July 4, the CDC reported on 26 cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma, again all in gay men, within the previous 30 months, with eight of the patients having died. As scientists struggled to find the cause, the plague became known as GRID, or gay-related immune deficiency syndrome.

But it wasn’t until a year later — on June 27, 1982 — that the term AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, was coined. Human immunodeficiency virus — HIV — wouldn’t be discovered until 1983 by Institut Pasteur in France, and it was identified as the cause of AIDS by Dr. Robert Gallo in the U.S.

By 2011, more than 25 million people worldwide had died of AIDS, and new infections continue, with men who have sex with men once again leading in terms of new infections, according to the CDC.

Despite the frightening infection rates, federal funding for HIV/AIDS services is dwindling, with community-based AIDS service organizations struggling to find new ways to raise money, offer services and educate the public. One North Texas organization, AIDS Resources of Rural Texas based in Weatherford, announced in July that it could no longer keep its head above water and would be closing its doors as of Sept. 1.

Most clients who had been accessing services at ARRT were absorbed by the Tarrant County AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth, where Executive Director Allan Gould pledged to continue to provide services to its growing client base, despite increasing cuts in federal and state funds.

In late September, AOC announced its intention to partner with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, based in Los Angeles, to open an AIDS clinic in 2012. On World AIDS Day, AHF officials and basketball legend Magic Johnson announced that the planned AOC clinic would be one of three Magic Johnson clinics opening in the next year.

Observances of the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic worldwide began in early 2011, while in North Texas, the first such commemoration came in late June when Dallas Voice and a host of partner organizations and business presented a public forum focusing on the status of HIV treatments today. On July 1, Dallas Voice published a special issue, AIDS@30, focusing on current treatments, research and education efforts, as well as profiles on individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS service organizations joined together for World AIDS Day commemorations on Dec. 1, including a display of panels from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in downtown Dallas, and on Dec. 6, Charles Santos spearheaded The Gathering, an unprecedented collaboration of performing artists from around North Texas who donated their time to a performance at The Winspear Opera House. About 1,000 people attended the event, which raised more than $60,000 for local AIDS service organizations.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

AOC to host new Magic Johnson HIV/AIDs clinic

Gould expects new clinic to open in April, giving HIV/AIDS patients in Tarrant County more options for care

Magic-Johnson

Magic Johnson

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Officials at AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, headquartered in Los Angeles, announced on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, that basketball legend and AIDS survivor Earvin “Magic” Johnson will be lending his name to three new AHF-affiliated healthcare clinics — including one planned at AOC’s Fort Worth facilities.
The other two new AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Centers will be in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Atlanta.

AOC and AHF officials had announced in late September that the boards of the two agencies had signed a letter of intent to develop the Fort Worth clinic.

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould said this week his agency is “very excited” that the clinic being planned here was chosen to be an AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Center.

“It is definitely something we had hoped for, and we are very honored that the Magic Johnson Foundation and AIDS Healthcare Foundation trust us to operate this new clinic,” Gould said. “His [Johnson’s] name will bring an even larger degree of publicity to our agency and to the work we do here. And hopefully, that will open some doors that were not so fully opened to us in the past. This can’t be anything but great news for us.”

AHF is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the U.S., and serves more than 100,000 patients overall in 22 countries. Created in 1987, the foundation generates its operating capital through its own self-created social enterprises, including AHF Pharmacies, thrift stores, healthcare contracts and other strategic partnerships.

Johnson, who was still playing pro basketball in 1991 when he announced publicly that he was HIV-positive, is chairman and founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation. The foundation raises funds for community-based organizations focused on HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

“Magic Johnson is not just an outstanding businessman and a sports legend. He is also a hero to thousands because of the way he lends his name to the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Gould said. “When he stepped up to declare that he was HIV-positive, he did a tremendous amount to help lessen the stigma of AIDS.”

Gould said the most important aspect of the new AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Clinic at AOC is that it will “offer clients a choice.”

“I am not saying anything negative about JPS Healing Wings [HIV clinic] or the Tarrant County Health Department’s AIDS clinic. They do a great job,” Gould said. “But there are still people lining up at both those clinics every day to see a physician and get the care they need. Now there will be a paradigm shift in access to medical care in our region. Now those clients will have a choice.”

He said that the new clinic, “ideally, could see up to a thousand clients a year, once it is staffed. But I think in the first year we will see 400 to 600 patients.

What that will do is lower the number of patients going to Healing Wings and the public health clinic, and shorten those lines, that wait time. This gives those clients another opportunity to access expert, top-of-the-line, cutting edge medical care.”
Gould said the new clinic will occupy about 4,000 square feet of AOC’s facilities at 400 N. Beach St., and that it will include a pharmacy, as well.

Gould.Allan

Allan Gould

“This new clinic will offer medical treatment and prescriptions, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay,” Gould said. “That’s a huge element that we will be bringing to the table that has not been previously available” in Tarrant County and surrounding rural counties AOC serves.

Gould said AHF first approached AOC officials about five months ago, and that AOC officials “were really honored” to be considered as the site of a new AHF clinic.

“It is something we have wanted to do for some time,” Gould said. “Having a clinic has long been an integral part of our mission, and when we moved to our new location here on Beach Street, we did so hoping that the additional square footage this new space gives us would give us the chance to have a clinic.”

But even after they were approached by AHF, “we took our time and did our due diligence,” Gould said. “It takes times to figure out if you want to be a federally qualified health care clinic or go a different route. You have to look at all the parameters involved and all the different permits and licenses you have to have. It can become quite daunting.”

Even when they announced the letter of intent in September, he said, details were still being negotiated. That’s why when AHF CEO Michael Weinstein said during his visit to Fort Worth last month that he would love to see the new clinic open on Feb. 14, 2012, “our jaws just dropped to the floor,” Gould said.

“Even under the best circumstances, the process of getting [construction] permits and rearranging the existing offices — opening by Valentine’s Day simply was not feasible.”

Still, Gould said, word of the new clinic is already getting around and “We are already getting resumés for physicians who want to come and run this clinic, from nurse practitioners and others who want to work here.

“This truly is a huge event for Tarrant County,” Gould continued. “I know there are a number of community health care clinics in Dallas, but this will be the first one in our area that isn’t run by a major medical facility. The role that AOC has been trying to foster for some time is now coming to fruition, and that speaks volumes about the respect we have built up.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

AOC announces partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open HIV/AIDS clinic in Fort Worth

Allan Gould, right, executive director of AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County, today announced that the combined boards of AOC and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have signed a letter of intent to plan and develop the Community Healthcare Clinic in Fort Worth specifically to offer medical treatment to people with HIV/AIDS.

Gould told Dallas Voice this afternoon that “if all goes as planned, we anticipate that the clinic will be open by April 2012.”

In a written statement released today, Gould said the clinic will “underscore AOC’s mission of being the ‘one stop shop’ addressing the HIV client’s vital medical, emotional and social service needs. He also said plans are in the works to implement a mobile health care van to meet the needs of those with HIV/AIDS living in rural areas.”

He said that estimates are the clinic will initially serve more than 400 individuals when it opens.

Based in Los Angeles, AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the nation’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care, offering cutting-edge medical care to more than 27,000 people in the U.S., Africa, Central America and Asia, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, according to AOC’s press release. In the U.S., AHF operates 14 healthcare centers and 11 pharmacies in California, Washington, D.C., and Florida.

Read Gould’s statement in its entirety below:

—  admin

AOC holds ‘Evening of Hope’

CELEBRATING | Sandy Lanier, center, co-founder of AIDS Outreach Center’s Sandy Lanier Nutrition Center, was on hand along with AOC Executive Director Allan Gould Jr., right, and AOC Director of Development Jim Downing for the agency’s second annual Evening of Hope Gala.

2nd annual gala marks Tarrant County ASO’s 25th anniversary

FROM STAFF REPORTS
editor@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — AIDS Outreach Center continued its 25th anniversary celebration in June with the second annual Evening of Hope Gala, held June 25 at Ridglea Country Club.

The event featured Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Michael Skipper as keynote speaker, along with NBC 5 news anchor Scott Friedman as host. Sandy Lanier, cofounder of AOC’s Sandy Lanier Nutrition Center, was honorary chair, and Michael Cinatl was event chair.

The evening began with a VIP reception, followed by an open reception and a silent auction, then dinner, a live auction and dancing.

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould Jr. said that as the country marks the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS, AOC is, after 25 years, celebrating its transition from its initial purpose of providing end-of-life services to those with AIDS to today’s mission of “giving those with HIV/AIDS a promising future, with hope through ongoing scientific advancements.”

“As long as we continue to find individuals who test positive for HIV, we will remain resolute in our mission,” Gould said. “AIDS Outreach Center will grow and transform itself to be at the forefront of testing, outreach, prevention and education to halt the spread of HIV. We will be steadfast in delivering the compassionate care and essential services to those already infected/affected. We are here as long as there is a need!”

AOC is the only 501(c)(3) organization in Fort Worth serving Tarrant County and seven surrounding rural counties, offering prevention, education and outreach programs and comprehensive direct HIV support services to men, women, children, and their families.

AIDS Outreach Center also advocates for a strong and sound HIV public policy.

—  John Wright

Walking into the future

READY, SET, WALK | AOC Executive Director Allan Gould and AIDS Walk Coordinator Penny Rowell are hoping this year’s fundraising walk will be the best yet. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

AOC’s 2011 AIDS Walk will kick off the agency’s 25th anniversary year

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center marks its 25th anniversary this year, and a number of events are already scheduled to celebrate. The first of those is the center’s 19th annual AIDS Walk, set for Sunday, April 3.

Walk Coordinator Penny Rowell said this week organizers are working to build this year’s walk into the biggest and best ever to help celebrate the center’s milestone anniversary.

In the beginning

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould has been involved with the center in some capacity practically since its inception in 1986 as the Fort Worth Counseling Center.

“I was working for Radio Shack then, and the folks from the counseling center came to Radio Shack and asked for help in getting the computers and phone systems and so on set up. I have been an active participant since then, either as a volunteer or a board member or an employee,” Gould said.

That first year, Gould said, the counseling center saw only nine people, but “it was the beginning of an outreach and an effort to supply something [help for people with AIDS] that was sorely lacking then in Tarrant County.”

In the beginning, the agency focused on getting volunteers — “mainly counselors and social workers and attorneys” — to offer services for people with AIDS, he said.

“Back then, there were no AIDS tests. People were only being diagnosed when it was really too late. There were no drugs to keep them alive,” Gould recalled. “I used to keep a record of all the people I knew who died of AIDS. But when the list reached 300 or so, I just stopped recording the names.

“I couldn’t do it anymore; it was just too devastating,” he said.

“It was the immediacy of that moment, of seeing people getting sick and dying so quickly, that caused our community — the GLBT community — to unite and create this organization to reach out and try and give some comfort to those who were dying all around us,” Gould continued.

“There wasn’t much we could do, other than offer them counseling and legal help to get their affairs in order. But we did what we could.”

In 1988, the center changed its name to Community Outreach Center and received its first public funding — a grant from the state that allowed the agency to hire its first actual employees, a counselor and Thomas Bruner, its first executive director. The newly-renamed center focused its efforts then on offering counseling to those with AIDS and on educating the public about the disease and how to avoid contracting it.

The name changed again in 1992 when the agency became the AIDS Outreach Center. Although today there’s nothing unusual about that name, at the time it was a controversial move.

“It was necessary to include ‘AIDS’ in the organization’s name. Including it directly addressed the needs we were trying to meet in the community and made sure people knew exactly what we were doing,” Gould said. “But at the same time, it shocked a lot of people. There was still a lot of discrimination happening, a lot of bias and bigotry against people with AIDS.

“That name change was a double-edged sword in a lot of ways,” he added. “It put us out there and made it easier for the people who needed us to find us, but at the same time, it caused a lot of people who had supported us to kind of withdraw, especially in the African-American and Hispanic communities.

“They just didn’t want to be associated with an organization that had ‘AIDS’ in its title,” he said.

Gould said that withdrawal by some previous supporters caused the agency’s donations to drop, and it took some time to rebuild the center’s funding.

Evolution

Attitudes toward the AIDS epidemic and the needs of those with HIV/AIDS have changed over the years, and so have the center’s services.

“Our mission hasn’t changed so much as it has evolved,” Gould said. “We still have the same services we started out with — although most of the legal assistance is contracted out to Legal Hospice of Texas now — but we have continued to add services.”

The center’s counseling services today are “second to none,” and the center is top on the list of agencies to which Tarrant County MHMR refers clients with HIV seeking help, Gould said.

Among the first services to be added was social and medical case management, followed by outreach, education and prevention programs.

“The Nutrition Center came next, and it grew out of the efforts of Sandy Lanier, the wife of Dr. Bob Lanier,” Gould said. “She truly believed that good nutrition was the key to good health for people with AIDS — for everybody, really — and she literally started going around to the markets and grocery stores, getting them to donate food.

“Then she would put those donations in the back of her station wagon and drive around finding people who needed the food,” Gould said. “What she was doing eventually morphed into a more structured format and finally became our food pantry, which is one of our most used programs.”

The most recent evolution came in September 2009 when Tarrant County Interfaith Network merged into AIDS Outreach Center, adding the Guisel-Morris Dental Clinic to the center’s arsenal of services.

At the same time, AOC moved from its longtime home in a cramped and dingy space in Fort Worth’s hospital district to spacious new quarters on North Beach Street.

“That merger and the move was a big drain for us,” Gould said. “We had anticipated that it would take about half a million dollars to pay for it all, and we had gotten enough pledges, enough commitments from people to cover it.

“But then the recession hit, and a lot of those pledges didn’t come through, and we found ourselves with a real cash flow problem,” he continued. About six months ago, we realized we had to make some adjustments, and we ended up laying off four employees and cutting one to half time.”

The agency was able to absorb the duties of those missing employees into other remaining positions and in doing so, realized “a huge and immediate savings of about $130,000 a year,” Gould said.

And now that the economy has begun to recover, he said, so has AOC. Since the new fiscal year began last September, Gould said, the center has seen “a much larger outreach from individual donors than in recent years,” along with a larger outreach from corporations and foundations.

So even with what is expected to be about a 6 percent cut across the board in federal and state funds looming, AOC is able to maintain its $4.5 million budget and keep offering its programs. Gould said the center now serves about 2,000 clients annually on an ongoing basis, although “not every client uses every service we offer.” Two of the most widely-used services are the dental clinic, with about 900 active clients, and the nutrition center, with about 700 clients annually.

The Walk

The goal for this year’s AIDS Walk is $110,000 to $115,000, and while that doesn’t cover a huge portion of the agency’s overall budget, the funds are important. And just as important is the opportunity the walk presents to reach a wider audience with the center’s message of awareness and prevention.

Rowell said she is encouraged by the fact volunteers helping organize the walk are coming largely from a younger generation that “is more aware of HIV and AIDS than any other generation,” and that these young people are taking the message to a new audience.

“It’s opening a dialog with a new and larger demographic,” she said.

Rowell said she is also counting on some changes in this year’s walk to help bring in a new crop of walkers and volunteers.

“We moved the walk back to Trinity Park this year” instead of starting and ending at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center with a route that circled the Botanical Gardens, she said.

This year, the walk starts at the pavilion off 7th Street, then circles through the park to I-30 and back to the pavilion. The event begins at 1 p.m., and the walk itself steps off at 2:30 p.m. Anna DeHaro, Sunday morning radio host with KEGL radio station, will emcee the walk and will have Gould as a special guest on her radio show that same day.
Cooks Children’s Hospital is sponsoring the Kids Corner with special activities for the younger participants, and the Human Society will be at the walk with pets available for adoption. There will also be vendor booths set up near the pavilion.

Pre-registration is available for $25. Registration the day of the walk will be $30, and starts at 12:30 p.m. at Luke’s Locker, located nearby at 2600 W. 7th St. Luke’s Locker, Rowell said, is a sponsor for this year’s walk and has been extremely helpful in organizing the event.

She said the store specializing in gear for runners has “done a lot of advertising for us online and at every event they have participated in recently.”

Anyone who pays a registration fee will receive an AIDS Walk T-shirt. But those who bring in at least $100 more will get a canvas tote bag and a T-shirt. Those who raise at least $250 extra get the shirt, the bag and one raffle ticket, while those who raise at least $450 get all that plus one more raffle ticket.

Items donated for the raffle range include concert and theater tickets, dinners and more. Rowell said organizers are also working with representatives from the Texas Rangers baseball team to get a raffle prize donation from the championship team.

“We’re still looking for vendors and sponsors, and anyone who is interested can call me for information,” Rowell said. She can be reached at 817-916-5224 or by e-mail at pennyr@aoc.org.

Looking ahead

Gould said this year’s AIDS Walk — as well as a May 5 open house and the June 25 “Evening of Hope” gala — are just a few of the signs of the great things to come for AIDS Outreach Center.

“We are looking at the future, looking at ways to round out our programs to take a more active role in the overall care, medically speaking, of people with HIV and AIDS in Tarrant County,” Gould said, “We are always looking at new ways to serve and grow, and there are great things to come.

“Over the last 25 years, we have made some dramatic strides forward in offering services and programs to our community,” he added, “and this agency is poised to be here well into the future.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Donations

RIDE TO THE BANK  |  Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS on Sunday Oct. 24, distributed proceeds from the 10th annual ride, held in September, to AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services Dallas and Resource Center Dallas during a party at Salum. The $150,000 check was 50 percent higher than last year’s check. Pictured from left are LSR Event Manager David Minehart, AOC Executive Director Allan Gould, LSR Event Chair Laura Kerr, ASD President and CEO Don Maison, and RCD Executive Director Cece Cox. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
RIDE TO THE BANK | Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS on Sunday Oct. 24, distributed proceeds from the 10th annual ride, held in September, to AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services Dallas and Resource Center Dallas during a party at Salum. The $150,000 check was 50 percent higher than last year’s check. Pictured from left are LSR Event Manager David Minehart, AOC Executive Director Allan Gould, LSR Event Chair Laura Kerr, ASD President and CEO Don Maison, and RCD Executive Director Cece Cox. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
SEEING RED (AND GREEN)  |  Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats presented a check for $7,525 to Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage at Dish on Wednesday, Oct. 27. They raised the money at the second annual Red Party. Pictured, from left, are Legacy board chair Steve Weir, Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove, DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce and DSYD Treasurer J.T. Williams.
SEEING RED (AND GREEN) | Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats presented a check for $7,525 to Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage at Dish on Wednesday, Oct. 27. They raised the money at the second annual Red Party. Pictured, from left, are Legacy board chair Steve Weir, Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove, DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce and DSYD Treasurer J.T. Williams.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Lone Star Ride distributes $150K to 3 AIDS services organizations during party at Salum

Allan Gould, Don Maison and Cece Cox
Allan Gould, Don Maison and Cece Cox accept a check from the Lone Star Ride. To see more photos from the wrap party on Sunday at Salum, go here.

On Sunday, Oct. 24, Lone Star Ride distributed $150,000 to AIDS Services of Dallas, the AIDS Outreach Center and Resource Center Dallas. AOC Executive Director Allan Gould, ASD President and CEO Don Maison and RCD Executive Director Cece Cox were on hand to accept the check.

At the party at Salum on Travis Street, Michael Veale was given an award for bringing in the most new donors.

Ralph Randall was the single biggest fundraiser. He attributed his success in collecting money to relentless behavior.

“You can’t be timid and raise money,” he said.

He didn’t allow the down economy to dissuade him from asking.

“This disease doesn’t have an economic cycle,” he said. “Always ask. All they can say is no. Don’t give up.”

He raised twice as much this year as he did last year. He said he did the ride in honor of a friend of his with HIV and he gave his plaque to him.

“I do a lot of these rides, ” said rider Allan Chernoff. “This is the best supported ride in Texas.”

“Absolutely!” said Eric Markinson about riding again next year. He is part of Team Blazing Saddles.

“I’m very proud of Team Dallas Voice,” said rider and Dallas Voice Publisher Robert Moore. “They worked very hard. They put the beneficiaries in sight on the road ahead.”

Team Dallas Voice raised more money than any other team in the history of the Lone Star Ride. The total topped $50,000 this year.

Shelly Morrow was a first-year rider from Glen Rose who is planning to participate again next year.

“The closing ceremonies really got to me,” she said.

The closing ceremonies held at base camp at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center near DFW Airport included a performance by the Turtle Creek Chorale and wheeling in the riderless bike. That bike symbolized all the people lost to AIDS. They retired the number of a rider who passed away since the previous ride.

“And next year, I’ll try not to take out anyone, especially a writer,” Morrow said.

Morrow and I collided about 18 miles into the ride. My back brakes failed as we were checking directions on the route. I went over my handlebars onto the street. Although we had been riding together for several miles, she didn’t realize that I wrote for Dallas Voice until she saw my write-up on this blog.

To see more photos from Sunday’s wrap party, go here.

—  David Taffet