HIV Alliance provides care to those living with HIV/AIDS and helps prevent new HIV infections. 1 in 7 people live with HIV today. And there were over 37,000 new diagnoses in 2018. 6/10 Oregonians have never been tested for HIV.
They serve 32 counties in Oregon and have offices in 5 counties. And they reach over 1100 clients.
In 2019 they reversed 700 overdoses. Further, they provide dental, behavioral, and employment services.
The biggest issue that those who live with HIV face is meeting basic needs. 56% of clients are eligible for OHP. And many need emergency assistance to keep the lights on and pay rent. In addition, 12% of clients are unhoused. When their basic needs are not met, they may be more likely to spread HIV.
HIV & Housing
Housing instability delays testing. High-risk individuals are 15x more likely to delay getting an HIV test. Furthermore, 50% of people with HIV experience housing instability.
To add to this, multiple studies show that housing is a strong predictor for people who live with HIV. Housing is a stronger predictor than gender, race, age, drug use, and mental health.
Syringe exchange is a harm reduction initiative. People reuse or share supplies if they cannot get new supplies. Syringe Exchange has a budget of about $150,000 a year. One HIV infection costs $600,000. And the cost of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) treatment is $60,000.
Therefore, if Syringe Exchange prevents even one infection, it benefits our community. It is estimated that without Syringe Exchange there would be 75 new HIV infections annually.
In addition, Syringe Exchange increases the safe disposal of syringes. Further, it reduces syringe related injuries and decreases transmission of HIV and HCV.
Lastly, Centers for Disease Control, American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization support Syringe Exchange Programs.
Oregon has experienced a high degree of overdose instances. HIV Alliance started an initiative to give Naloxone free to help save lives. After starting this initiative, 900 overdose reversals have been reported.
Youth and HIV
Youth between ages 13 to 24 account for more than 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses. Over 50% do not know they are infected. Further, this age group is the least likely to know about or understand HIV. In addition, youth with HIV are the least likely to be linked to care and prescribed HIV medications.
HIV Alliance reaches more than 8,000 youth each year. They work in three counties and give presentations in middle and high schools. Also, they serve at-risk adult populations.
The four types of presentations are SIS/POZ, HIV 101, HCV 101, and STI 101.
For the SIS/POZ presentation, trained speakers living with or affected by HIV share their personal stories. These speakers make a strong impact.
HIV 101 covers HIV transmission and prevention. It covers the fluids involved in transmission and also the ports of entry. In addition, it describes the highest risk activities for contracting HIV. It also discusses ways that it can’t be transmitted. Furthermore, it explains ways HIV can be treated and that there is no cure or vaccine for HIV.
HCV 101 covers Hepatitis C (HCV) transmission and preventing infection.
STI 101 shares information about Sexually Transmitted Infections. This is important since STIs are on the rise.
When HIV Alliance comes to the classroom, they give a pre-test. Most students do not know the basics of HIV.
HIV Alliance collaborates with the Gay Student Associations. They also host an online digital library for LGBTQ+ youth. In addition, HIV Alliance is creating a Latinx resource web library. Further, they offer videos of POZ, HIV 101, HCV 101, and STI 101 presentations.
Volunteering at HIV Alliance
Volunteers can help with syringe exchange, testing, and counseling. They can also help by conducting outreach programs and giving educational presentations. There are other volunteer opportunities as well. Click here to learn more or apply.
HIV Alliance holds a large fundraiser every year called “Big Night” in May. Click here for details.
This article was summarized from a presentation at a Southtowne Rotary Meeting. To view upcoming presentations, click here.