New affiliation between AIDS Outreach Center (AOC) and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) seeks to improve delivery of prevention and lifesaving HIV/AIDS care and services in eight North Texas counties.
FORT WORTH, TX (October 23, 2017) AIDS Outreach Center (AOC) and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)—each with over thirty years of community service and experience to draw on—are expanding their capacity to provide critical lifesaving services to those affected by HIV/AIDS as well as HIV prevention and testing services throughout North Texas. The two respected AIDS service organizations, which began co-locating services at some locations in the Fort Worth area in 2012, are now joining together in a more formal affiliation.
“AOC and AHF each have long and respected histories of service to the community and similar philosophies and missions. Co-locating our services at some sites, which began in 2012, has worked beautifully, helping us meet clients’ needs more immediately and allowing us to engage and retain folks in care, leading to improved health outcomes. Taking stock, we decided it would in the best interest of the clients and communities we serve, as well as both organizations to form a stronger, more formal affiliation,” said Shannon Hilgart, Executive Director of AIDS Service Center. “To be clear, AIDS Outreach Center will remain an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization and keep its identity—well-deserved after our thirty years of service. But now, we will be able to address needs in our communities in North Texas that we would never have been able to without this partnership. We are honored to work with AHF in this exciting new collaboration.”
“Both AHF and AOC share a common mission to stop the spread of HIV and improve the lives of all people living with HIV/AIDS and other disenfranchised and underserved populations,” said Bret Camp, Texas Regional Director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Each organization has a long history of providing such services: AOC was founded in 1986 and 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 affiliation allows both organizations to continue to leverage our respective strengths to better serve the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout North Texas.”
Both organizations serve HIV-positive clients with a wide variety of free or low-cost services.
Each year, AOC staff and volunteers provide services to over 1,600 people living with HIV/AIDS, and education to over 3,000 people in eight North Texas counties. AOC services include: housing and insurance assistance, case management, mental health and substance abuse services, a dental clinic, a food bank, transportation services and support groups. AOC’s community health services include free HIV and syphilis testing and low-cost testing for other STIs, individual risk reduction counseling, and linkage to care services. Most services are free of charge. Fees are based on income sliding scale.
AHF is a global organization that provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to more than 817,000 people in 38 countries. It is also the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the United States.
HIV/AIDS in Fort Worth and North Texas
- As of 2016, 5,842 individuals were living with HIV in Tarrant and surrounding seven counties.
- In 2016, the Fort Worth HSDA had the fourth highest number of new diagnoses in Texas with 310 new cases identified that year.
- Only 73% of total PLWH (People Living with HIV) retained in medical care in 2016 compared to approximately 90% of AOC clients.
- In 2016, over 70% of new diagnoses by AOC were MSM (men who have sex with men) of color age 29 or under.
“AHF recognizes the importance of supporting patients and clients with local grassroots community-based services that are crucial to ensuring better health care outcomes,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the North Texas area which AOC serves—eight counties that include both urban and rural populations as well as poor, minority as well as some disenfranchised populations. With this formal affiliation with AIDS Outreach Center and under Shannon Hilgart’s ongoing leadership, we hope to better serve those in need in the region and use this partnership as a model in other regions.”