WELCOME TO EDUCATION WALK
GET WITH EDUCATION
APLA Health has always been about educating our community. Our first program in 1983 was an AIDS Hotline operated out of a converted closet in a community services center. Everything we knew about the new disease (which would later be named AIDS) could fit on a single piece of paper attached to a clipboard. We would answer phone calls that came in from frightened Los Angelenos and provide as much information and support as we could. From that humble beginning, we continue our work to educate as many different constituencies as possible about HIV and how to end the epidemic.
When you select the EDUCATION WALK, you will learn more about how APLA Health works to end HIV stigma in disproportionately impacted communities, increase access to HIV testing and PrEP and PEP, inform people of the benefits of U=U, and advocate and educate elected and appointed officials.
ENDING HIV STIGMA
Stigma is the perhaps most difficult aspect of HIV/AIDS to quantify and to address, yet is so key to preventing HIV transmission. When people fear the stigma of an HIV diagnosis externally and/or internally, they are less willing to get tested, less willing to access medical care and less willing to disclose their status to potential partners. This stigma has real consequences; it is estimated that over 40% of all new HIV cases come from people who have never been tested and don’t know their status. APLA Health combats stigma with truth by giving patients the facts about HIV without bias or judgement.
ACCESS TO HIV TESTING, PrEP & PEP
HIV testing is only the beginning. For our HIV negative patients, we help develop a plan to stay that way. In addition to educating on ways to reduce risk, we link these patients with one of our counselors and healthcare providers to get them on PrEP, a prevention strategy that virtually eliminates the chance of contracting HIV by taking one pill a day. PrEP is one of the most exciting medical advances in LGBT healthcare but uptake is lagging – especially in Black and Latinx communities; the same communities that see the most disproportionate rates of new HIV infections. At APLA Health we are proud that our PrEP program primarily serves younger gay men and trans women of color – the patients that have the least access.
For our HIV positive patients, we work tirelessly to connect them to our HIV specialty care services including comprehensive medical care and extensive counseling on the importance of medication adherence. We provide patients with all the resources they need to understand the virus and learn how to manage it, including the importance of getting to an undetectable viral load; or U=U (undetectable=untransmittable). U=U guarantees a patient the highest quality of life possible and also makes them unable to transmit the virus.
Although we have the tools to end the epidemic, we still have hard work in front of us – particularly in communities of color. In Los Angeles County, nearly 1 in 4 people who are newly diagnosed with HIV are Black, despite African Americans making up only 8 percent of the County’s population.
APLA Health offers a broad range of community HIV prevention programs targeting young men of color and trans women. Healthy Him is a program for young African American men designed to build community, strengthen decision-making abilities and help our members live better lives. APLA Health staff layer health education and HIV prevention into all aspects of the program life through discussion groups, community outings, and more. Our Trans Connections program is designed to meet the needs of transgender women. APLA Health staff work one-on-one with clients who face extraordinary challenges and debilitating stigma every day. All of our services are culturally competent and delivered in a way that is both affirming and ensures that clients are the active owners of their health.
APLA Health has been a leader in HIV advocacy since the very beginning. Some of our most important education occurs not out in the community with clients but in the halls of Congress, the state capitol or city hall. We work tirelessly to make sure that the rights of people living with HIV and at high risk for acquiring HIV are protected and that our critical programs and services are fully funded. Most recently we were instrumental in getting California Senate Bill 159 passed, allowing pharmacies to provide PrEP without a prescription. This groundbreaking legislation will greatly increase PrEP options for patients across the state of California.
AIDS Walk Los Angeles supports the work of APLA Health, one of the leading AIDS service organizations in the country and the first to become a community health center. AWLA is traditionally the largest outreach event of its kind in Los Angeles County, raising vital funds to increase medical care, support services and education programs for those living with HIV or at risk of HIV.
Together with your fundraising help, we can end the epidemic in Los Angeles County.