RCD receives Elton John grant

Money targeted at reaching Latino community is believed to be the first grant from the foundation to a Dallas organization

Ruben-Ramirez

STEPPING UP PREVENTION EFFORTS | Community Health Programs Manager Ruben Ramirez will target the Latino community for HIV prevention funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The Elton John AIDS Foundation has given Resource Center Dallas a $38,000 grant to be used in targeting HIV prevention efforts within the gay Latino community.
Community Health Programs Manager Ruben Ramirez said this week that the money will allow RCD to expand its outreach and testing program to a population that has seen a dramatic rise in infections.

“The grant will be used to expand the activities we do now and give it more visibility, and then to provide a social support group on a monthly basis,” Ramirez said.

When the organization had city funding, the center provided more testing and social support to the Latino community than is currently available, Ramirez said. The increased programming begins next month.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation generally funds innovative programs that are already successful in reducing the spread of HIV. So rather than create something new, Ramirez said the center will use the money to enhance the outreach that’s already working.

In other target groups, RCD has followed up testing with support groups and social networking that has reinforced the safer-sex and prevention message.

Ramirez said that within the Latino community, he has heard quite a bit of misinformation.

“We’re still seeing the old myths from way back when about how people get HIV,” Ramirez said, adding that he had recently spoken to someone who thought he could get HIV from sipping from the same glass as someone who was positive.

“I was astounded,” he said.

Ramirez said that although information is readily available, language and immigration barriers stand in the way of some people learning about HIV.

“And some folks just bypass the sea of information of HIV information that is out there,” he added.

In addition, those with information don’t necessarily access testing. Ramirez said RCD will collaborate with area bars to provide testing as well as with other groups.

“We’ve worked very well with AIDS Interfaith Network in the past, and the gay LULAC group,” he said.

Ramirez said plans for implementing the grant, which appears to be the first the Elton John AIDS Foundation has made to a Dallas organization and is the largest the foundation has given to an agency in Texas, are still under way.

In 2010, EJAF gave OutYouth Austin $25,000 for its HIV prevention program that included testing that targets those ages 14 to 20.
Metropolitan Community Church of Abilene received $25,000 in 2008 for its drug intervention program for people who are HIV-positive.

EJAF was established in 1992 by the singer and is based in London. John’s husband, David Furnish, is chairman of the foundation.

EJAF supports programs that aim to reduce the incidence of HIV as well as end the discrimination and stigma associated with the disease. Other grants fund direct care for people living with HIV.

Ramirez said that RCD was particularly honored to receive this grant because it was competing with other organizations around the world to get the funds.
The EJAF has raised more than $225 million and funded projects in 55 countries since its founding.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local Briefs

KNON bringing Hightower to Dallas

KNON 89.3 FM, Dallas’ Community radio station presents national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author Jim Hightower in a speaking engagement and dinner on Saturday, March 26, at Historic Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St. Dinner will be catered by Cajun Alligator Café.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Hightower’s speech, followed by a question-and-answer session, begins at 8 p.m. For dinner and the speech, admission is $25. Admission for the speech and Q&A session only is $10. Tickets are available at Forever Young Records in Grand Prairie, Bill’s Records in Dallas and on KNON’s website, KNON.org, via PayPal.

For more information call 214-828-9500, ext. 222 or go online to KNON.org.

Ramirez named to national board

Ruben Ramirez, community health programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, has been named to the national board of cultural experts for the Mpowerment Project.

It is a program developed by the University of California-San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Ramirez is attending his first meeting of the board this week in California.

In his job at the center, Ramirez works with program staff to create, develop and enhance innovative primary and secondary HIV prevention programs, syphilis elimination initiatives, and other efforts relating to sexually transmitted diseases. The programs target gay/bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, African-American, Latino and other at-risk populations.

The Mpowerment Project is an evidence-based, community-level HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men ages 18 to 29. CAPS developed Mpowerment, and it collaborates with organizations around the country to understand how it is being implemented in diverse communities.

Ramirez has been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts since the 1990s, first in the Austin area and later with the Center. He earned an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force, and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas-Austin.

GAIN presents real estate program

Resource Center Dallas’ GAIN program will hold a program titled “Keeping it ‘Real’ in Today’s ‘Senior’ Real Estate Market — finding out the truth about your real estate options” on Thursday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the resource center, 2701 Reagan.

Realtor Ed Abenante with Keller Williams Realty, Ron Watterson with Prime Lending and Alan Hopper with RE/MAX Associates will attend to discuss issues including how and when to sell, downsizing and reverse mortgages.

The event is free and open to the public.

Women’s History Month program set

Resource Center Dallas’ Phil Johnson Historic Archives & Research Library and JEWEL women’s group will honor Women’s History Month by hosting a talk  titled “Honoring and Preserving Women’s History: The Centrality of Labor and Feminist Activism,” presented by Clark A. Pomerleau, history professor at the University of North Texas. The lecture will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the center, 2701 Reagan Street in Dallas.

Pomerleau is an assistant professor for U.S. women’s and gender history at University of North Texas. He specializes in sexuality studies, 20th century social movements and alternative education.

The event is free and open to the public.

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

—  John Wright