Action Wellness Senior Development Manager Tim Rissell and Volunteer Coordinator Chris Hayes and AIDS Fund Associate Director Tim Johnson, discussed their work to serve individuals living with HIV. Tim and Chris spoke of how the mission of Action Wellness has changed over its history, Starting as Action AIDS, it addressed the need for ‘buddies’ and caregivers for individuals who were facing death on their own, estranged from families society. As treatment changed the outlook for most they became Action Wellness, dedicated to helping those with HIV live with their diagnosis, helping them maintain a happier, healthier life. They spoke of challenges of HIV, they help over 4,000 clients annually with medical case navigation services, housing, return from incarceration, employment, even volunteer opportunities. Tim Johnson discussed the role AIDS Fund plays in their work, his agency provides them and other HIV service providers with emergency financial assistance to cover the costs that can keep clients housed and medially safe. The average grant is about $400, it can take care of a rent deposit, a co-pay or a utilities bill.
We also discussed the on-going infection rates, HIV preys on the economically disadvantaged and new infection rates are disproportionately higher for African Americans and Latinos. They spoke about prevention and getting the word about PREP out to these communities, while telling us that testing is lagging. Even today, many do not know they have been infected, either through fear, the continuing stigma or not realizing they are at risk.
We discussed the annual AIDS Walk October 16 that funds the emergency gran
t program. Kicking off from the Philadelphia Museum of Art there will be a reading of names, a presentation of AIDS Quilt panels, a warm-up stretch and then a leisurely 5K walk. Learn more at ActionWellness.org or Aidsfundphilly.org