LOS ANGELES (October 1, 2012) — AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is pleased to announce that it has received a generous grant in the amount of $12,415 from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation Advised Fund at The Community Foundation Serving the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino. This grant is funding expansion of AHF’s HIV Educational Support Group Program and HIV 101 Course, a unique program that motivates clients through providing in-depth HIV information and education, self-efficacy skill building, peer support and medication adherence.
HIV education and support are critical components of improved health outcomes for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. In 2003, AHF began to offer weekly HIV education and support group meetings to meet these needs. Each week, presentations are given by AHF’s own staff members and visiting presenters on various topics relevant to persons living with HIV/AIDS. Previous topics have included HIV and Minority Populations, What’s New in HIV, Adherence Tools, Medication Side Effect Management, Aging and HIV, Hepatitis Co-Infection, HIV Knowledge and Stress Management. The last meeting of each month is reserved as an open forum for group members to discuss topics affecting them. These open forum groups are facilitated by the Program Manager, Paul Prosser, with the support of an AHF medical social worker.
Many clients attending the weekly meetings are concurrently enrolled in AHF’s Success Through Anti Retroviral Therapy (START) program, an intensive counseling program for clients struggling with medication adherence in medical outpatient settings. START represents the only intensive education and counseling program for treatment adherence within the context of specialized HIV medical care in Los Angeles.
In addition to weekly support group meetings and the START program, AHF facilitates HIV 101 Courses designed to inform and provide detailed information overview on understanding the history of HIV/AIDS, the virus’ effect on the body, how to correctly take HIV medication, and how to remain adherent to treatment. The class helps people to better understand the HIV disease so that they may manage the HIV to the fullest extent possible. The HIV 101 Courses prove to be important to newly diagnosed patients, those who have been out of care and/or clients with low health literacy.
“AIDS Healthcare Foundation is very grateful to the S.L. Gimbel Foundation for its ongoing support of our successful Adherence Support Group program and the HIV 101 Course,” said AHF’s Paul Prosser. The HIV Educational Support Group is unique in that it integrates HIV educational presentations, group discussion, and a peer support intervention. No other organization provides ongoing adherence support and education for vulnerable populations at risk of dropping out of care and who are having difficulty adhering to their medication.”
Funding will allow AHF to expand the number of HIV 101 courses provided over the course of the year. Additionally, AHF will utilize a portion of the funding to launch a women’s educational support group at its Downtown Los Angeles Healthcare Center. This will provide women with a safe space to communicate with other women managing the daily challenges of living with HIV and build their support network and knowledge of HIV.
Mr. Prosser added: “The program targets patients with compromised health as indicated by high viral load, low CD4 count and opportunistic infections. However, through our comprehensive medical counseling and support services, our patients have seen great improvement in their health. Many foundations discontinued supporting subsidiary services due to the complacency that follows improved HIV medications. However, The S.L. Gimbel Foundation truly understands the need for continuous efforts. For that, we thank S.L. Gimbel Foundation for recognizing the importance of sustaining our patients who live with a chronic disease.”