Dallas County HIV testing announced for National Black HIV Awareness Day

AIDS Dallas County

Dallas County is offering free HIV testing on Thursday at multiple sites in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a national HIV testing and treatment mobilization effort targeting the black community, which accounts for 44 percent of all new cases of HIV in the U.S.

According to the latest Dallas County statistics, for 2011, almost 13,500 people were living with HIV in the county, and 5,482 of those were African-American.

“Knowing your HIV status is a great benefit to individuals and to our community as a whole,” county Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said. “Having this knowledge allows people to make better decisions about their health in the future. Residents have multiple opportunities to get tested for free.”

Testing locations are:

—  David Taffet

DCHHS now offering seasonal flu vaccine

FROM STAFF REPORTS
editor@dallasvoice.com

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson announced this week that the department has, as of Thursday, Sept. 8, begun offering the seasonal flu vaccine for adults and children. Flu vaccines for children are $5, and the adult vaccine is $20. The vaccine is free for patients covered by Medicare.

Thompson the vaccine is recommended for almost everyone except children younger than 6 months and people who have severe allergies to eggs, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. DCHHS will also have the high-dose flu vaccine available for seniors 65 years and older at a cost of $40. This vaccine is also covered under Medicare.

The flu vaccine will only be offered in the child and adult immunization clinics in the DCHHS building at 2377 N. Stemmons Frwy. The children’s immunization clinic, located on the first floor, is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. The adult immunization clinic, also located on the first floor, is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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

—  Michael Stephens

LOCAL BRIEFS: Agencies offering free HIV tests; DFW Bi Net celebrates Pride

Agencies offering free HIV tests

In observance of National HIV Testing Day, AIDS Interfaith Network, in partnership with Dallas County Health and Human Services, will offer free, on-site, anonymous HIV tests on Monday, June 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, 1210 River Bend Drive.

Prevention information will be available in English and Spanish, and testing will also include screenings for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Resource Center Dallas will offer expanded free walk-in testing opportunities Friday and Saturday, June 24-25 and Monday, June 27.

Free HIV testing will be offered Friday at the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic, 4012 Cedar Springs Roadd, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic will be open regular hours for testing on Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

DFW Bi Net celebrates Pride

DFW Bi Net is celebrating national LGBT Pride Month with a mixer from 6 pm. to 9 pm on Thursday, June 30, in the Great Room/Champagne Room at ilume on Cedar Springs.

The event will feature margarita and pina colada machines and a drag performer.

 

CCGLA elects board

Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance and JCPenney Pride members recently celebrated national Gay Pride Month with a mixer at Seasons 52 during which CCGLA members also elected board members.

Kyle Mabbitt was unanimously elected to his first term on the board, and Morris Garcia, Rosemarie Odom and Bob Shimmin were unanimously re-elected to new two-year terms. The 2011/2012 CCGLA board also includes continuing members Belinda Carmikle, Jeanne Rubin, Jane Schmidt and Ron Turner.

The new board’s first meeting will be Sunday, June 26, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Parr Library in Plano, during which board members will elect new board officers.

—  John Wright

AIDS Arms breaks ground on new clinic

BREAK THROUGH | AIDS Arms held a Sledge Hammer Party to begin renovations to transform its property into a new HIV clinic. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Agency hopes to serve many of the 6,000 people with HIV in the area not currently accessing health care

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

AIDS Arms broke ground Wednesday, May 4, on a new clinic at its former office location on Sunset Avenue in Oak Cliff. The agency held a Sledge Hammer Party to tear down walls inside the old building and begin new construction.

The clinic will be the agency’s second and will target people with HIV who do not otherwise have access to medical care.

Dallas County Health and Human Services estimates 6,000 HIV-positive people in the area are not accessing medical services.

The new Oak Cliff facility, scheduled to open by the end of the summer, will provide affordable care for up to 2,500 people.

“I think what’s important about this is we will serve a lot of people who were underserved who have HIV,” AIDS Arms board Chair John Loza said.

The new clinic will include a full-service pharmacy, laboratory, diagnostic and exam rooms and an HIV research center. A community resource center will provide space for AIDS Arms’ own support services and those of several other agencies to help clients access them.

AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said the resource room will offer a variety of social services in one place, including “legal services, child care, food, counseling, transportation.

“Then our clients can go home and take care of life. They won’t have to spend all their time taking DART from one agency to another,” she said.

Legal Hospice of Texas Executive Director Roger Weddell said his agency has an attorney at AIDS Arms once a month.

“If patient load picks up, we can schedule to have someone here more often,” Weddell said.

Rx Partners will open a full service pharmacy at the facility. Corey Legendre transferred with the company from Louisiana. He said that once clients turn in their prescriptions, their medications will be delivered.

AIDS Arms serves people from throughout North and East Texas, so the convenience of delivery using UPS or Fedex is an important service, Legendre said, adding that discretion and confidentiality are added benefits compared to buying medications in a busy chain store.

The pharmacy, which will be open to the public, will be the only private drug store in Oak Cliff.

Nobles said that the research the agency will be doing will include drug trials, new drug combinations and testing clients’ levels of tolerance of medications. She said they will also be doing some work with pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, using the HIV drug Truvada with HIV-negative people to prevent them from contracting the virus.

Ephraim Garcia and Ed Amerson of Bank of America presented AIDS Arms with a donation of $15,000.

Garcia is an AIDS Arms board member and formerly worked for Resource Center Dallas. Amerson is with the BofA Pride group and works with the bank’s other affinity groups.

“This clinic is so important to the people we serve,” Nobles said. “Our new clients will love this clinic.”

AIDS Arms is the largest private nonprofit organization in North Texas providing HIV services.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs: Bloomin’ Ball is Saturday; TWCD performs on Mother’s Day

Bloomin’ Ball is Saturday

AIDS Interfaith Network holds its fifth annual “Bloomin’ Ball: Sowing Seeds of Hope” fundraiser on Saturday, May 7, in the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway. The event, which raises money to help fund the agency’s services for people living with HIV/AIDS, will include dinner, two auctions, live entertainment and the presentation of AIN’s Crystal Hope Awards.

Event co-chairs are Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld. Honorary co-chairs are Tim and Thom DeWitt and Dr. Barbara Cambridge with UT Southwestern.

Receiving the Crystal Hope Awards this year will be the James and Gayle Halperin Foundation, Gladys Brantley and the Cathedral of Hope HIV/AIDS ministry.

Tickets are available online at AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org and by phone at 214-943-4444.

 

TWCD performs on Mother’s Day

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas will present a special Mother’s Day concert, Nature & Nurture, Sunday, May 8, at 3 p.m. at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park.The one-hour concert will be held on Sunday, May 8th, 2011 at 3:00 p.m., at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. The concert will conclude with a live butterfly release.

Advance tickets are $20, available online at TWCD.org or by phone at 214-520-7828. Each ticket includes admission to the Texas Discovery Gardens.

 

AIDS Candlelight Memorial set

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held Sunday, May 15, in more than 1,200 cities and towns in 115 countries to commemorate the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrate support for people living with HIV/AIDS and mobilize community-based response to HIV/AIDS.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial observance in North Texas will be held at 4 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1819 MLK Jr. Blvd. Event Chair Auntjuan Wiley said the theme for this year’s event is “Touching Lives.”

Special guests will include District 7 Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn R. Davis, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson, Minister Kirby Harden and Company from Dallas and keynote speakers Michelle Anderson, Terrance Gilbert and Brianna Lamar.

 

Leather Knights’ Military Maneuvers

Leather Knights of Dallas will conducting their annual “Military Maneuvers” fundraiser for the Nelson-Tebedo Dental Clinic on Saturday, May 21 at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

Organizers said the goal for this year’s event is to raise enough funds to directly purchase a Cavitron, an ultrasonic device used in the removal of hard deposits on teeth, at an approximate cost of $1,800.

The evening will include a silent auction from 8:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m., boot blacking from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., military haircuts on stage from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., a raffle to include a cash prize, a uniform contest at 10:30 p.m. with case prizes for most authentic uniform and sexiest soldier, and representation from local and national organizations.

To make an online donation, go to LeatherKnights.org.

—  John Wright

HIV/AIDS forum at Richland College on Thursday

Bret Camp

Resource Center Dallas and AIDS Arms in partnership with Dallas County Health and Human Services will hold a community forum at Richland College on Thursday.

Bret Camp of RCD said this is the third in a series in locations heavily impacted by HIV around the county.

Topics for Thursday’s forum include outreach and educational awareness; testing and screening; and social and follow-up services.

“This event targets the high morbidity rate in the 75243 zip code,” he said, an area around Forest Lane and Audelia Road. He said the forum is especially geared toward African-American men who have sex with men, but everyone is welcome.

The Dallas area has one of the highest HIV infection rates in Texas. An analysis of countywide HIV data last fall identified trends that show particular areas of the county to have high case rates.

“Residents living with HIV are encouraged to attend the forum so that we can learn about their needs and they can learn what resources are available to them,” said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson.

The forum is open to the public and free. It will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Richland Community College, 12800 Abrams Road, Sabine Hall, Room 118.

—  David Taffet

Thanks for an amazing year at RCD

LGBT, HIV communities should be prepared for new challenges in 2011

What a year! Who could have predicted all the twists and turns it has taken, or the events that galvanized our country and united our communities?

IMG_1262
HELL FREEZES OVER  | A member of the Phelps clan from Westboro Baptist Church protests outside Resource Center Dallas in July. A counterprotest fundraiser organized by RCD netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for the agency’s hot lunch program. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

So much happened in 2010 involving Resource Center Dallas, and none of it could have occurred without the strong support of the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities in North Texas.

Looking back, I am filled with gratitude and wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. Here’s what you helped us accomplish:

• Dallas Area Rapid Transit expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity, in the wake of news stories about the discrimination experienced by a transgender bus driver;

• RCD joined forces with the Kaiser Family Foundation, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and AIDS ARMS to bring the “Greater than AIDS” campaign to Dallas, highlighting services available to people living with HIV/AIDS and promoting HIV prevention;

• DFW International Airport expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity, following a request from RCD and Fairness Fort Worth;

• A fundraising counterprotest against a “church” from Kansas brought out hundreds of community members in a rainstorm and netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for our HIV/AIDS clients’ hot lunch program;

• Following advocacy by RCD, Lambda Legal, LULAC and a coalition of other community groups, the Dallas Independent School District adopted a first-of-its-kind-in-Texas comprehensive, enumerative antibullying policy that covers not only LGBT students, but all students;

• We partnered with 138 community groups, including the Tarrant County Health Department and the Urban League of Greater Dallas, in the “Stomp Out Syphilis” campaign; administered over 3,100 HIV tests; and delivered HIV prevention messages to more than 8,600 people;

• We completed diversity training for all 700-plus employees of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission statewide — the first time a state agency conducted this training for all its employees;

• And, we served more than 21,500 weekday lunches and provided about 29,000 visits to our food pantry for our HIV/AIDS clients in 2010 — distributing more than 350 tons of groceries.

These accomplishments, funded while the economy remained sluggish and both the need and demand for our services continued to increase, show the generous nature and support of our communities and allies. Each and every one of you who got involved deserves recognition and a deep, sincere thank you — especially the more than 1,100 people who volunteered at RCD in 2010.

As we stand on the cusp of another year, we do not know what opportunities for change will be presented. Clearly, the political landscape has shifted, and the new realities in Washington and Austin will provide opportunities and challenges for the LGBT and HIV communities.

One key area — funding for ADAP (AIDS drug assistance programs), medical care and social services for people living with HIV — will be an issue for Texas lawmakers already grappling with a large budget deficit.

The movement toward marriage equality will continue in the federal courts, as well as state legislatures. Even though “don’t ask, don’t tell” is coming to an end, work needs to be done so that gay and lesbian members of the military can serve openly — and, there remains a prohibition on openly transgender members of the armed services.

Over the past year, the LGBT and HIV communities responded to issues as they developed. We made phone calls, wrote letters, spoke truth to power, and rallied. We donated our time to organizations quietly and without thought of recognition. We sent our dollars in to provide economic support to organizations that share our values, focus and interests.

What 2010 teaches us is that we must be ready to meet whatever challenges we encounter. Resource Center Dallas will be there, engaged on behalf of not only our communities but all North Texans. We’ll continue to develop partnerships across the region, because the issues of HIV, discrimination and equality don’t respect city limits or county lines. And, we’ll be turning to the communities again for your help and support.

Playwright and author Thornton Wilder reminds us, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Throughout this year, you and our work with and for you kept us fully alive and conscious of our shared treasure. For that, and the opportunity you offer us to serve you and our communities, Resource Center and I say thank you. And Happy New Year!

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager at Resource Center Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Focusing on S. Dallas

Wiley says South Dallas AIDS Walk designed to target message of HIV awareness to a different community

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Auntjuan Wiley, right, and Jai Makokha
Auntjuan Wiley, right, and Jai Makokha

Dallas County has the highest HIV infection rate in Texas, according to county health officials, and some of the highest morbidity rates in the county are in two zip codes: 75215 and 7521o.

Both of those zip codes are in the South Dallas area, and yet, that area remains dolefully underserved when it comes to HIV/AIDS education, outreach and awareness efforts and HIV/AIDS services, according to longtime AIDS activist and educator Auntjuan Wiley.

“When it comes to HIV services and awareness and outreach, we focus on Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff. South Dallas always gets missed,” Wiley said this week. “And the only medical service provider for people with HIV in South Dallas is the Peabody Health Center.”

That’s why, when he was named executive director of the new Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation, Wiley immediately set out to find ways to fill that gap. And when he heard about the idea for an annual South Dallas AIDS Walk from Anthony Chisom, he decided right away to get involved. The first South Dallas AIDS Walk is scheduled for March 19, 2011.

The lead-up to the walk began last Thursday, Nov. 4, with a kick-off party that included Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn Davis, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson and more. Wiley’s co-chair for the walk is AIDS activist Jai Makokha.

Wiley is quick to stress that the South Dallas AIDS Walk is not meant to compete — either for participants or funds — with AIDS Arms’ LifeWalk, held each year in October in Lee Park. The South Dallas event, he said, is targeting a whole different audience.

And the walk “isn’t just all about the Anthony Chisom Foundation,” Wiley added. “Some of the funds will come to us, yes. But we have other beneficiaries, too.”

Those beneficiaries, he said, include The Afiya Center, which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health for women and girls; Welcome House, which provides housing and services primarily for African-Americans with HIV/AIDS; the Ugieki Foundation, which focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness and education and provides an online project management system for charitable organizations; AIDS Arms’ Peabody Health Center; and AIDS Interfaith Network.
Wiley explained that well-known interior and floral designer Anthony Chisom began his foundation, which provides financial assistance to people with HIV to help them pay rent and utilities and buy their medications among other things, after a trip to Africa where he saw the devastation the HIV epidemic had caused there.

“He knew then that when he came home he had to do something. He had to get involved. So he started the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation,” Wiley said.

Wiley said he and his steering committee are working to confirm Phil Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, as keynote speaker and grand marshal for the South Dallas AIDS Walk. But, he said, walk organizers need lots of sponsors, vendors, walkers and volunteers. And he hopes that many of the businesses and civil and faith community leaders in South Dallas will come on as partners in this effort.

He said the involvement of the business, civil and religious leaders will be vital to the walk’s success.

“South Dallas is, historically, a hard community to reach with the AIDS awareness and education messages,” Wiley said. “There is still a lot of the fear and stigma and shame surrounding HIV and AIDS in South Dallas that isn’t as strong any more in Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff. So it takes a different approach in South Dallas.

“It is very important that we have an aggressive and strategic community engagement piece to this effort. There needs to be a real conversation with the gatekeepers in this community, the community leaders,” he said. “If we can get them involved, then we have a better chance of getting our message to this community.”

Wiley said the walk will be an annual event, because a one-time thing won’t get the message across.

“You can’t go into this community just once with a message and then leave,” he said. “You have to stay there. You have to be visible. You have to let them know we care. We want them to know that this is ‘a walk in South Dallas, for South Dallas.’ That’s our theme.”

While the obvious goal is to raise awareness and funds, “it’s about a lot more than just charity and awareness. It’s about doing the work. Until there is a cure the work has to be done,” said Wiley, who this month marked his 15th year of living with AIDS and this year marked his 20th year of working in the HIV/AIDS field.
Wiley said, “This is about change. Dallas County has the highest HIV infection rate in Texas. South Dallas has some of the highest infection rates in Dallas County. That has to change. It is just time for a change.”

For more information, contact Auntjuan Wiley by e-mail at a.wiley@anthonychisomaidsfoundation.org or by phone at 214-455-7316.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

County to partner with community ASOs

Forums planned to gather ideas from community will focus on strategies to prevent HIV infection

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dr. Steven Harris, left, and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price
EXTENDING THE FIGHT | Dallas County Health and Human Services Medical Director Dr. Steven Harris, left, and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price discuss new efforts to fight the rising HIV infection rate in the county during a press conference on Thursday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Dallas County Health and Human Services Department officials announced Thursday, Sept. 16, that they are forming a new partnership with AIDS Arms and Resource Center Dallas to begin new HIV awareness and prevention programs.

“We’ve seen a resurgence of numbers,” said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson.

Among the initiatives announced were community forums to find new ways to create awareness and spread the message of prevention.

“The key is resident input,” Thompson said.

The county will also open a new testing clinic in far North Dallas, an area with increasing HIV rates and a lack of HIV services.

“If money could have cured this, probably we wouldn’t be here today,” said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

He said that an estimated one in five people infected with HIV in Dallas County do not know their status, adding that “HIV disproportionately affects certain populations.”

Among the groups with a recent increased infection rate are people age 50 and older. Saturday, Sept. 18 has been named National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. AIDS Arms has coordinated a number of testing locations around the county. Those locations are listed on the Dallas Voice website.

Dr. Steve Wilson, Dallas County’s STD/HIV medical director, said that early in the decade the area saw a decrease in the HIV infection rate. By 2006, there was a leveling off.
He attributed that, in part, to increased testing efforts by the county. He also said that current testing detects the virus earlier. At least 30 of the 850 to 900 people diagnosed locally last year would not have been detected with traditional testing methods.

Wilson said that three areas with most of the increase in infection rates are Oak Lawn, Oak Cliff and North Dallas. He said that to address the needs in those areas, the county was partnering with community-based organizations.

Bret Camp, associate executive director of Resource Center Dallas, said that early intervention produces the best clinical outcome.

“With the recent advances in HIV treatment, it is now a chronic, manageable disease,” Camp said. “Testing and education are our best weapons to fight the spread of HIV.”

He said that on Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., Resource Center Dallas would host the first community forum on strategies to join together “to create a successful plan that will reduce HIV transmission and give us healthier communities.”

Camp said they are looking from input from people who are HIV negative and positive and HIV infected and affected.

AIDS Arms Behavioral Intervention Specialist Ed Jones said a second forum would be held in South Dallas at the Urban League, 4315 S. Lancaster Road, on Oct. 28.

Jones said that because on an increased need for HIV clinical services, AIDS Arms would be opening a clinic in Oak Cliff in addition to its South Dallas Peabody Clinic.

One group that has seen a significant rise in HIV infection in Dallas County is younger people age 13 to 24. In 2006, two 13-year-olds were diagnosed. In 2008, a 14-year-old, a 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds tested positive in Dallas County.

Rubin Ramirez
Rubin Ramirez

Price said that until recently, Dallas County was the largest in the country where condoms were not available to younger people because of an abstinence-only sex education mandate.

“In 1992, there was basically a ban by the court,” he said. “Let me say that I am very glad to stand here today and say that has been repealed.”

He said that purchasing condoms was not an issue. Condoms are available at the county health department for distribution.

“They are available as a protection mechanism,” he said. “It is available in your toolbox in Dallas County.”

Dallas County’s Chief Epidemiologist Wendy Chung said that the infection rate among 13-to-24-year-olds is 54 per 100,000. She said that represents a 30 percent increase in recent years.

Rubin Ramirez of Resource Center Dallas said that one of reasons for the increase in infections is apathy.

“People are immune to the message because of treatments available,” he said. “They think things are OK.”

He said the goal was to bring HIV awareness back to the forefront.

Price agreed and said that was a big problem in the African-American community.

“Magic made it. It can’t be that bad,” Price said referring to basketball player Magic Johnson who was first diagnosed with HIV 19 years ago. “There wasn’t anything magic about Magic, and we need to bring urgency to this issue.”

Currently, about 14,000 people in Dallas County are living with HIV. That is a 30 percent increase over the past six years. The growing number is partially due to longer life expectancies for persons receiving medications.

Of that amount, 67 percent of cases are among gay men and others identified as men who have sex with men. Women represent just 22 percent of the cases in Dallas County.
A disproportionately high percentage of HIV infections in Dallas County are among minorities. Hispanics account for 23 percent of the cases and blacks 48 percent.

While Dallas is the third largest city in Texas, it has the highest infection rate, according to AIDS Arms. Since 1981, 15,000 people have died of AIDS-related illnesses in North Texas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

HIV testing planned around Dallas on Saturday

AIDS Arms Inc. and Dallas County Health and Human Services have scheduled HIV testing at various locations around Dallas County on Saturday, Sept. 18, which has been declared National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.

According to county HHS Director Zachary Thompson, the 50-and-older population is one group that’s contracting HIV at higher rates than the general population.

Rubin Ramirez of Resource Center Dallas said he thinks people in this age group have become immune to the HIV prevention message because of treatments that are now available.

For more on some new Dallas County HIV/AIDS initiatives, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

Testing times and locations are below:

—  David Taffet