Portland, September 6th, 2014. Fields Park in the Pearl District was filled with excited walkers ready to pound the pavement to fight AIDS. According to AIDS Walk Portland organizers, nearly 35 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS, but about one quarter don’t know they have AIDS. This walk raises money for awareness and services to fight the AIDS and it’s also just a lot of fun. Live entertainment and a finish line beer garden added to the festive atmosphere. (Photo credit, Jason BingDigital Reality)
From the Cascade AIDS Project.
Founded in 1983, Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) is the oldest and largest AIDS Service Organization in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Our mission is to prevent HIV infections, support and empower people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, and eliminate HIV/AIDS-related stigma.
With 61 staff and a volunteer corps of 785 people providing more than 29,000 hours of service each year, CAP manages a broad array of programs and an annual budget of about $5.8 million. Grounded in the belief that a diverse and culturally competent staff is essential to effective services, more than 25% of CAP’s staff identify as individuals from communities of color, 30% as bilingual, and 15% as individuals living with HIV or AIDS. Our programs serve the broad and diverse set of communities touched by HIV—from teens, Latinos, the gay community, and families living with HIV, to the thousands of individuals throughout the state who seek education each year though the Oregon AIDS Hotline.
A 19-member volunteer Board of Directors provides strategic guidance and oversight to ensure CAP accomplishes its mission and continues to operate with integrity and transparency. Nineteen percent of the Board is HIV positive, and half are from communities of color. Here is a brief overview of just a few of CAP’s programs within our two primary departments:
HOUSING & SUPPORT SERVICES
- CAP’s Kids’ Connection programs served 85 families living with HIV/AIDS, including 99 children, by offering programs as varied as help disclosing HIV status to schools, guardianship planning, teaching kids about HIV, recreational opportunities with other HIV-affected families, and a week-long residential camp for children.
- Last year, the Supportive Housing department provided housing services, including rental assistance, emergency assistance, and life skills training to nearly 628 people. Support included everything from allocating over $890,000 directly to meeting client needs for stable housing to Rent Well and budgeting courses to ensure long-term stability for individuals and families.
- CareLink is a short-term bridge to permanent care for HIV-positive people who need special attention. These people may be newly diagnosed and unsure of where to turn, diagnosed but not in regular medical care, have complications such as mental illness or addiction, or be leaving prison. CareLink works up to three months with each client to find housing, food, medical treatment, counseling, and more, all the while helping them plan permanent care.
- Latino Medical Case Management provides culturally competent, Spanish language case management for CAP’s Latino clients.
- Working Choices launched January 2011. Last year, the program helped 87 clients in their quest for employment through resume and interviewing workshops; networking events; a weekly Job Club; and Job Lounge, weekly “open houses” where clients can print resumes, use a computer or fax machine, and get advice on job applications.
PREVENTION AND EDUCATION
- Recognizing that 75% of all new infections in Oregon are among men who have sex with men, Pivot, a space by and for gay and bisexual men, is open evenings and weekends to provide education, prevention, social and cultural programming, HIV and STI testing and more. Last year, Pivot tested 1,725 men for HIV and STIs. Outreach testing for gay and bisexual men, including those in Clark, Clackamas, and Washington counties, correctional facilities, and more, reached an additional 865 people.
- Last year, the Oregon AIDS/STD Hotline fielded 882 calls and 6,372 online visitors from throughout the state requesting a wide variety of information and referrals to address their concerns about HIV and STIs.
- Testing for All provides rapid HIV testing and risk reduction counseling in CAP’s comfortable offices to anyone who wants it. We request a donation, but will turn away no one for lack of funds. Last year, we tested 548 people.
- CAP’s Youth HIV Education program including Teen2Teen and ChatPDX reached out to 3,385 youth through youth-facilitated workshops and peer education, and served an additional 4,990 youth through outreach, including social media.
- The Speakers Bureau sent HIV-positive speakers on 58 speaking engagements, sharing HIV prevention education messages with 2,668 people.
All in all, last year CAP provided HIV/AIDS education and prevention services to nearly 15,000 people and coordinated wrap-around support services for 1,680 people affected and infected with HIV/AIDS in the five-county Portland metropolitan area. More information about Cascade AIDS Project is at www.cascadeaids.org