Looking Ahead: AIDS Services Foundation Orange County
The AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) just wrapped their 27th year of assisting those living in Orange County with HIV/AIDS and has even more in store for 2013.
Part of that progress is due to a two year $150,000 CORE Operating Grant from the Weingart Foundation and a renewed grant of $50,000 from the Bill & Susan Gross Family Foundation, all to fund ASF's HIV testing initiative. And ASF is set to bring even more coverage to the Orange County area.
That testing initiative has been a work in progress and will bring ASF's HIV testing outside of the organizations offices and into the most at risk communities. ASF employees will be able to administer tests at clubs and events instead of requiring people come into the office, maximizing the number of people they reach. "We're excited to take testing into the community. We reach the nearly 1,700 Orange County individuals who are unsure of their status," Executive Director Phil Yaeger says. Studies have shown that people infected by HIV who see their doctor on a regular basis within the first year of diagnosis have nearly double the survival rate of those who do not.
As a Ryan White sub-grantee, ASF has been participating through the Orange County Health Care Agency in the "in+care Campaign." The campaign is a collaborative effort between the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau and the National Quality Center. It is a national 12-month quality improvement initiative focused on retention and bringing people back into care and keeping others from falling out of care. "We still have a lot of education and prevention to do to bring awareness. Our wish is zero new infections and for those who are positive to remain in care and receiving treatment,"Yaeger says, "When people remain in care, they are more likely to adhere to their medications, have undetectable viral loads and decrease transmission-it creates healthier communities."
What started in 1985 as a small group of volunteers providing support for the people dying from AIDS in the area that had nowhere to turn, has blossomed. Now, nearly three decades later, it is the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit AIDS-service organization in Orange County. With a staff of almost 50 and hundreds of dedicated volunteers, ASF helps more than 1,600 men, women, children, and families in Orange County living with HIV disease.
Services ASF provides food, transportation, housing, emergency financial assistance, children and family programs, mental health counseling, support groups and HIV education/prevention services. The over-arching goal is to ensure everyone living with HIV and AIDS in Orange County has access to life enhancing care and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
ASF is proud to look forward to its annual O.C. AIDS Walk-to be held again this year at the Disneyland Resort and the O.C. Ride For AIDS -both of which have enjoyed growth each year in existence.
AIDS Services Foundation is located at 17982 Sky Park Circle, Suite J in Irvine. For more information call 949.809.5700 or go to ocasf.org.