A couple weeks ago several ASA staff members we able to attend the 2017 United States Conference on AIDS (#2017USCA) in Washington D.C.
Pictured left to right: Alberto Barragan, Melissa Rios, Paul Scott, and Sheira Gentle.
Upon returning, Sheira says, “My passion for working with the HIV population was like a candle with an inextinguishable flame. At the 2017 USCA, after experiencing the drive and passion of many others, working tirelessly in strength and unity towards that common goal of stopping the virus, it has now become a blazing FIRE!”
AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) is prepared to serve HIV positive persons displaced due to Hurricane Harvey. Available services include Housing Assistance, food and hygiene items from our Helping Hands Food Bank, Case Management of disease, Health Insurance Assistance, and Legal Services. ASA has staff at evacuation centers providing support and information.
A vendor for our Food Bank, H-E-B is greatly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Although we have a stock of necessary items to distribute, our ability to purchase items from their distribution centers is limited. We are anticipating an increase in Food Bank need and are asking the community to help us provide the following to our clients:
We are prepared to accept donations Monday-Friday during regular agency operating hours of 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at our Cameron Road location. Please contact ASA with any question at 512-458-AIDS (2437) or www.asaustin.org.
Elaine found out she was HIV-positive a month after her husband was diagnosed with AIDS. Through her tears, anger, and fear, she threw herself into taking care of her husband and their six children. After he passed away a year later, Elaine was ever more focused on their kids; making sure they had food on the table and a roof over their heads took priority over her health. Like many living with the diagnosis and having to care for others rather than themselves, Elaine fell sick, unable to care for her children, and felt isolated from the world.
Through ASA’s Women Rising Project, Elaine was taught how to start a path to empowerment and better health. She credits the Women Rising Project for giving her the tools and support she needed to take charge of her health and continue to care for her children.
Even more importantly, she proudly states that ASA has enabled her to blossom as a person. “ The Women Rising has helped me come out of isolation. It helps me get out of the corner.” Elaine now says she “feels like [she] can do anything,” and she is paying forward her new self-confidence. “I lend a voice to the cause of HIV and AIDS by being open about my status. The Women Rising Project and ASA help women living with HIV feel like we are not alone.”
When you are living with HIV, regular dental check-ups can save your life. Early signs of disease often present themselves in the mouth making oral health critical, yet HIV stigma prevents many patients from seeking dental care. Finding a dentist who understands HIV can be difficult and the cost of quality care is out of reach for many. As the only dental clinic dedicated to serving people living with HIV in Central Texas, ASA’s Jack Sansing Dental Clinic changes lives every day.
Many patients face a choice of living with chronic pain or losing their teeth and giving up their smile. A healthy mouth builds a healthy life! Meet TaShana:
TaShana came to ASA to help her manage her HIV. She was able to get her health stabilized, but a new issue presented itself. The effects of life saving HIV medications had taken a toll on her teeth and gums. Her teeth had become painful and loose. It was a difficult period,
“It was painful to eat. I smiled less…Your smile tells a story.”
That’s when ASA’s Jack Sansing Dental Clinic stepped in.
TaShana beams when recalling her experience, “Doctor Novak said ‘You are a beautiful person, you have to have a beautiful smile. I will not stop until your mouth looks like it’s supposed to look’ He made me feel good.”
Now, TaShana’s smile tells a story of confidence and health. As a driver for Goodwill her smile makes people feel welcome. Recently married, TaShana is building a life for herself and her family. Her smile reflects her strength, and her bright and healthy future.
Blueprints for a healthy life with HIV and for an HIV free generation are now within reach, but budget cuts proposed to federal funding for HIV services will drastically impact 30 years of progress. We need you to stand with us now more than ever!
David moved to Austin in April of 2016, looking for new opportunities and a fresh start. For years, David struggled with his health, housing, and isolation. Unable to accept that he is gay, David’s relationships with his family and friends became increasingly disconnected and left him without a support system.
Seeking to establish care in Austin, he was not sure where to begin. A client of AIDS Services of Austin suggested David start with ASA. David began building a foundation for a healthier future the moment he walked through our front doors.
“Everyone, from the receptionist to the case managers made me feel like I mattered again.”
David needed help getting basic needs assistance. During the intake process, he was linked into housing, food bank, and case management services. David also connected with ASA’s The Q Austin. The Q is an HIV prevention program that empowers the community to practice safer sex, reduce new infections, and end stigma. Looking to establish a network of friends, he developed relationships with supportive peers who helped guide him out of isolation.
With ASA’s help, David has built an incredible foundation to sustain his health and grow his support network in Austin. He went from being sick, homeless, and hardly having anything to call his own, to being independent enough to graduate from case management services. He has a place of his own and a steady job, both of which he found and secured himself with the tools he gained at ASA.
Beyond meeting his basic needs, ASA provided David with holistic care and a blueprint for building a healthy future that is not defined by HIV.
“I’ve got my life back. ASA helped me get care, so I could focus on life!”
ASA provides a holistic approach to HIV care. We address clients’ needs by meeting them where they are and linking them to services that help them focus on life. Your support makes that possible and shows people like David that they matter.
It is with deep sorrow that we mourn the passing of long time ASA ally and friend Stephen Rice. He was a steadfast supporter and champion for AIDS Services of Austin, as well as The Octopus Club, Hill Country Ride for AIDS, Equality Texas and many other organizations that made Austin the community that Stephen loved dearly.
Whether on the airwaves or behind the scenes, Stephen’s impact on ASA and this community was profound. The time and energy Stephen invested in building awareness and raising funds for the programs and services of ASA has created healthier lives for thousands of Central Texans living with HIV.
Stephen was an incredible advocate and generous, energetic contributor to Austin’s LGBTQ community and his absence will be deeply felt. Our hearts go out to his husband, Mark Erwin (former ASA Board Member and Current Board President of the Kind Clinic), family, and friends during this time.