AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland and AIDS Healthcare Foundation Join Forces

In News by AHF

New affiliation seeks to improve delivery of lifesaving
HIV/AIDS care and services in Ohio

CLEVELAND (June 27, 2013) The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland (the Taskforce) has expanded its capacity to provide critical services to the Northeast Ohio by affiliating with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Both organizations serve HIV-positive clients with a wide variety of free services that range from case management to medical care. AHF is a global organization that provides cutting edge medicine and advocacy to more than 200,000 people in 28 countries. It is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the United States. The Taskforce serves over 1,200 clients and their families in six counties in Northeast Ohio by providing vital social services to include case management, nutrition, transportation and HIV/AIDS/STDs education/ prevention, research and advocacy.

“The affiliation of the Taskforce and AHF will bring many enhancements to the care and well being of hundreds of individuals in Northeast Ohio living with HIV by providing free testing services, pharmacy services, a healthcare center, case management and ancillary support services for clients and their families,” added Tracy Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. “We are honored to be partnering with AHF in this exciting new collaboration.”

“Both AHF and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland share a common mission to stop the spread of HIV and advocate for the rights and needs of individuals with HIV and AIDS to be treated compassionately, fairly and without judgment,” said Adam Ouderkirk, Senior Director of Business Development for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Each organization has a long history of providing such services: the AIDS Taskforce was founded in 1983; AHF in 1987, a time when the AIDS epidemic was claiming the lives of thousands of men and women across the country and drugs to control the virus were few, new and experimental. This new partnership allows both organizations to continue to leverage our respective strengths to better serve the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.”

HIV/AIDS in Ohio
According to a report from Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, approximately 10,000 Ohioans are currently living with HIV, and another 8,600 individuals are living with AIDS. However, these numbers only account for people who are aware of their HIV/AIDS status, and national estimates project 20% of people living with HIV/AIDS have not been tested and are unaware of their status. According to an HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program conducted by the Ohio Department of Health, men were consistently diagnosed at a far higher rate than women between 2007 and 2011 (about 78% men to 22% women).

Consistent with national statistics, HIV/AIDS incidence was highest in Ohio’s African American population, which accounted for over 56% of new diagnoses for each of the five years tracked in the Department of Health report. Rates in the African American community have been slowly but consistently rising since 2007. Also on the rise are rates among youth aged 13-24, particularly among 20- to 24-year-olds, who went from accounting for 1% of new diagnoses in 2007 to 4% in 2011. Though the highest incidence by age was among people aged 45 – 64, those age groups showed a slow but steady decline in new diagnoses over the years studied, a trend that can only be mirrored in the younger demographics through an increase in prevention education.

“Keep the Promise on AIDS—Ohio” March & Rally Brings AHF & ATGC Together
As affiliation talks between the two groups were underway, AHF and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland recently partnered in the “Keep the Promise on AIDS-Ohio” March and Rally, which took place in Cleveland on May 11th. Over 1,100 individuals gathered and marched from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Plaza Park to the Public Square in Downtown Cleveland calling for a continued focus on AIDS awareness and services. Civil rights icon Julian Bond offered an inspiring speech to the group at the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel on the Square, and ‘Keep the Promise’ participants then enjoyed a free concert headlined by R&B songstress Brandy. Ohio’s ‘Keep the Promise’ was one in a series of nationwide KTP advocacy marches spearheaded by AHF with local partners intended to send messages to national, state, and local officials that now is not the time to retreat on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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