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.
Allow us to introduce Michelle Mussett, our Eligibility and Intake Coordinator. She has worked with us since November 2016 and was kind enough to answer some random questions for us.
Keep an eye out for more staff spotlights in the future!
– Before working at ASA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
The most interesting job I’ve had was with a university based nonprofit that worked to expunge criminal records…Criminal histories have a shocking impact on your ability to successfully re-enter and make you automatically ineligible for many state and federal programs, including access to student loans. With an expungement, you can start fresh, but it is a process that is really often only known to high-income ex-offenders who have private lawyers to educate them. I had never worked in a legal capacity before, and it was really exciting to learn about this broken aspect of our society and connect with ex-offenders.
– How did you first learn about ASA?
When I first moved to Austin 2 years ago, I was researching nonprofits that I really wanted to get involved with …It’s really important to me to work in a place that is inclusive and reflects my own values and passions.
I was impressed with ASA’s vision and goals and kept checking for open positions. I have social worker friends in the community that always spoke highly of ASA’s reputation, services, and commitment to its clients.
– What’s your favorite thing about ASA?
I love my co-workers and clients! My best days at work are when I get to hear client’s stories and can set them up with the resources they want and need. Being a supportive and compassionate listener is so important, but providing the tools to take action is one step better.
– What book did you read last?
I’m currently reading “A Little Life”, which is a generally devastating book about four friends in NY and all the horrible things that happen in their lives. But it’s great!…I like to get as involved and absorbed as possible, so I mostly stick to multi book series that are 15000+ pages.
– Motto or personal mantra?
I am always trying to push myself to do new things and approach decisions and experiences in my life with an open mind. I really love a line from fearless Emily Dickenson, “If your Nerve deny you, go above your Nerve.”
– Best vacation you’ve been on?
I’m very lucky to have close friends in the Foreign Service, and every year I visit whatever country they are living in. This previous May I went to Ethiopia for several weeks and visited the Bale Mountains, which is home to the rare Ethiopian wolf and the highest plateau in Ethiopia. It also contains some lowlands with amazing jungles chock full of warthogs, baboons, and nyalas (a big antelope). I spend all my free time when possible going on safaris in various places/biomes and hanging out with zoologists.
For National HIV Testing Day this year AIDS Services of Austin aims to test 100 people in 24 hours. We will offer expanded testing at two different locations. We will expand testing at The Q Austin as well as have a cookout to draw summer students as well as those who might be available during a lunch break or immediately after work. We will be partnering with Central Health Empowerment Clinic (CHE) to offer additional testing options for the awareness day. CHE will be testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea from 3 pm to 7 pm while ASA will be screening for HIV, Syphilis and Hep C the entire day from 12 pm to 7 pm.
Walgreens will partner with us again this year to offer expanded testing options for the community on both June 27th and June 28th from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Walgreens on Riverside Drive.
Alberto Barragan, AIDS Services of Austin director of prevention, says that the treatment of HIV and AIDS has become a manageable disease. “We have the tools today to end the HIV epidemic. But we have to work together as a community to make it happen! We work hard to educate the community about their risk factors and prevention options. Prevention doesn’t always look the same for everybody. Some people prefer condoms, some abstinence, and other PrEP and condoms. At ASA meet people where they’re at and help them find the right solution that works best for them.”
Help ASA reach our goal of 100 tested this year for National HIV Testing Day! Come by one of our testing sites and spread the word on your social media using #TestATX! ASA has set up several Snapchat geofilters at each testing site to make it easy for folks to invite their family and friends, while also normalizing the process of routine HIV and STI testing.
What: The Q Austin hosts a cookout for National HIV Testing Day (NHTD).
When: June 27th, 2017 from 12-7 pm.
Where: The Q Austin,
2906 Medical Arts
Austin, TX 78705
Walgreens, 3-7pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 27th and 28th.
1920 E Riverside Dr
Austin, TX 78741
Fundraising events are more than just opportunities to raise money for noble causes, they are opportunities to unite communities around vital issues. Dining Out For Life, a one day dining event in which restaurants join together in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is an event about raising awareness and coming together to uplift our friends and neighbors that are in need of support. With the assistance of event sponsors like Avita Pharmacy, ASA has been able to produce some amazing events that impact our clients and cater to the mission of our agency. Recently, we were able to pick the brain of our Dining Out For Life presenting sponsor and find out why the ASA mission and vision resonates with their company!
Question: Why does Avita care about ASA’s mission?
Answer: Avita cares about ASA’s mission because of their unwavering support and service in the HIV/AIDS community and their commitment to fighting stigma. Our values are parallel, and we are working towards the same goals as ASA. We are proud to call them a partner.
Question: In what ways does Avita see HIV impacting its neighboring communities?
Answer: With 7 locations across the south, we have seen firsthand how HIV/AIDS has impacted our communities. Our region continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV; we must do better at providing access to education, testing, and treatment. We need to continue fighting stigma. Though we’ve come very far, there is still more work to do.
Question: From Avita’s point of view, how has HIV changed over the years and why must the fight continue?
Answer: HIV is a continuing fight, but is no longer a death sentence. A person with HIV can now live a normal life with proper medical care and medications. But while the progress is encouraging, HIV remains a very real problem within our communities. It is important to continue the fight against HIV to work towards further advancements in the treatment of HIV and to make positive strides in fighting stigma.
Question: If you could give someone one reason to dine out during Dining Out For Life, what would you say?
Answer: Dining Out For Life is as easy as eating at one of your favorite participating restaurants with friends and family. Celebrate a life, past or present, and support ASA in their mission to enhance the health and well-being of the community and people affected by HIV/AIDS. Dine Out, Save Lives!