Wednesday, March 25, 2009

State Department Cuts AIDS Programs


At a time when support services have never been more critical, The State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has terminated four Ryan White Part B Programs (RWPB), totaling over $750,000, effective April 5.

While The State has projected a $910 million budget deficit, RWPB programs are federally funded by a grant administered through Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is expected to receive a surplus of funds due to the economic stimulus package.

Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN), Community Outreach Medical Center, Community Counseling Center, and the UNLV Medical School Pediatric AIDS Clinic were given little notice of the funding cuts, with only a 30-day funding termination letter. Due to the short notice, the organizations affected by the cuts are struggling to secure alternate funding to support the programs.

In the interim, medical staffing (doctors, nurses, and mental health/substance abuse counselors) has been reduced, entire programs terminated, and clinics servicing HIV prenatal women and pediatric AIDS care are facing full closure. Without the funding for these programs, all of the agencies will be forced to turn patients away, some of whom rely on these programs to survive with HIV/AIDS.

“For unborn children especially, this is a life and death decision that will have consequences far greater than the state has obviously considered,” said Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue, director of the University of Nevada School of Medicine’s Nevada Care Program. “These children, who would otherwise have a 98 percent chance to be born without the HIV virus, will more likely be born with the virus.”

Most studies conclude that for each newly diagnosed patient, the cost of care is about $25,200 per year with the average life expectancy of 24 years. In the Las Vegas area, almost 3,600 residents are living with HIV and 3,000 more are diagnosed with AIDS.

According to letters received by each organization, The State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services no longer considers these RWPB programs as core services. According to all four organizations, the state is incorrect.

“The programs they have cut are services which the federal entity HRSA has classified as core services,” said Sherry Suggs, operations manager, Community Outreach Medical Clinic. “This means the federal oversight agency also identifies these programs as essential, medically necessary services”.

Collectively, more than 700 HIV-infected and AIDS patients will be directly and immediately impacted. Those patients who will be especially hard hit include unborn children, minorities, and out-of-care clients.

Prior to the funding and development of these programs, The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation ranked Nevada as second only to California in new AIDS cases. The study revealed that Nevada was experiencing an 82 percent increase among newly HIV-infected residents between the ages of 13 and 24 from 1999 to 2003, with Clark County accounting for 78 to 84 percent of all new HIV cases.

Despite this disheartening news, the organizations affected by these cuts are collaborating to develop a continuation of care plan. Additional funding sources are being sought as the organizations continue to ask The State questions about their plan to deal with the gap in services.

“It is our hope to continue the vital and necessary care our clients need,” said Jennifer Morss, executive director at Aid for AIDS of Nevada. “We have a responsibility to the clients and the community, and we will be persistent in seeking other means to support these programs.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Everyone Walks, Especially Penn & Teller

For the seventh consecutive year, Penn & Teller are the Grand Marshals for AIDS Walk Las Vegas. Right on. This dynamic duo never shy away from a crisis.

Instead, they raise the stakes by challenging the community to get involved and give back. For the seventh consecutive year, Penn & Teller are the Grand Marshals for AIDS Walk Las Vegas. They've also set a fundraising goal of $50,000 — higher than any other year. And, they've promised to match whatever their team raises. So "put your money where your mouth is."


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In addition to matching funds, they will also reward your efforts with prizes.

Raise $500.00+ And Get It All
Four complimentary Penn & Teller show tickets for a special VIP Night at the Penn & Teller show. Includes:

• Backstage meet 'n greet
• Private magic lesson and photos
• Autographed Souvenir Packet
• Official Penn & Teller Challenge Walk T-shirt
• Access into the Penn & Teller VIP Tent on Event Day
• Accompany Penn & Teller on their walk at the 2009 AIDS Walk Las Vegas
• Backstage meet 'n greet reception will be held on one night for all qualifying walkers at the Penn & Teller show at The Rio

Raise $250 And Remember It
Four complimentary tickets to see Penn & Teller live at The Rio. Includes:

• Autographed Souvenir Packet
• Official Penn & Teller Challenge Walk T-shirt
• Access into the Penn & Teller VIP Tent on Event Day
• Accompany Penn & Teller on their walk at the 2009 AIDS Walk Las Vegas

Raise $100 And Meet The Men
Two complimentary tickets to see Penn & Teller live at The Rio. Includes:

• Autographed Souvenir Packet
• Official Penn & Teller Challenge Walk T-shirt
• Access into the Penn & Teller VIP Tent on Event Day
• Accompany Penn & Teller on their walk at the 2009 AIDS Walk Las Vegas

Raise $50 And Have Fun
Two complimentary tickets to see Penn & Teller live at The Rio. Includes:

• Official Penn & Teller Challenge Walk T-shirt
• Access into the Penn & Teller VIP Tent on Event Day
• Accompany Penn & Teller on their walk at the 2009 AIDS Walk Las Vegas

You can join the Penn & Teller Challenge and by visiting afanlv.org and registering for the AIDS Walk. After all, EVERYONE WALKS, but not everyone has a chance to walk with Penn & Teller!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

AFAN Shoulders Increased Client Health Insurance Costs

With Nevada’s unemployment rate reaching 9.1 percent, Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) has faced a 60 percent increase in Health Insurance Program (HIP) expenses between Nov. 2008 and Jan. 2009.

In November, the agency paid approximately $19,000 to support clients on this program. In January, these expenses reached $31,000.

“While this is a tremendous financial challenge, we recognize the growing need in the community,” said Jennifer Morss, executive director for AFAN. "We only hope to do everything we can to meet the needs of our clients."

As community needs increase, Morss still encourages clients to talk to their case managers about eligibility for programs such as HIP. Specifically, HIP will pay COBRA premiums and co-pays for clients’ Antiretrovirals (ARVs) and any medications needed to help cope with the side effects of the ARVs.

Clients who are eligible for Ryan White Part A (RWPA) are also eligible for the HIP program. AFAN expects to see continued cost increases for this program and other services until the state begins to realize an economic recovery. The nonprofit has also experienced significant increases in housing, transportation, and food voucher programs.

As long as AFAN can count on generous support from the community, Morss is confident the nonprofit can meet demands. We're all in this together, she said.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

AIDS Walk Added To BloggersUnite.org

BloggersUnite.org, a new social network dedicated to providing nonprofit organizations exposure to bloggers and social networkers who want to do good, selected AIDS Walk Las Vegas — Everyone Walks! as one of ten local nonprofit events to be featured along with 27 other international events.

Being listed on the network exposes the walk to hundreds and thousands of bloggers and social networkers, encouraging them to help raise awareness and raise funds for the event. You can help too.

By joining BloggersUnite.org and then subscribing to the event, participants will be able to add graphic badges to their Web sites, blogs, and some social network profile pages that link back to the event page. The event page at Bloggers Unite provides supporters with various resources and a direct link to the AIDS Walk donation page. Here is an example:



In the days ahead, Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) will be adding resources for bloggers and social network members, including suggested topic backgrounders and fact sheets. If you live in Las Vegas and have a Web site, blog, or social network profile, we would be grateful if you could help us get the word out.

Last year, the AIDS Walk included more than 250 corporate and community teams and 7,000 walkers who raised more than $550,000. This year, while we are confident the event will be a success, we have only raised $38,785 with the event only six weeks away. We need to do better.

AIDS Walk is vital for AFAN to continue serving more than 3,000 people afflicted with HIV or AIDS in Southern Nevada. These critical funds also help AFAN promote prevention campaigns, which is especially important as young adults, ages 18-24, currently represent more than half of all new AIDS cases.

Bloggers Unite is no stranger to AFAN's cause. Prior to becoming a standalone social network, it was a BlogCatalog.com initiative that encouraged bloggers to do good by raising awareness for underserved social awareness campaigns.

Last December, BlogCatalog teamed up with AIDS.gov and NIDA.gov to promote World AIDS Day. The campaign was an important component in generating more than 15,000 news stories and 250,000 blog posts that reached more than 62.5 million readers. According to AIDS.gov, its Web site traffic more than doubled and many new visitors have continued to participate on its site.

As an event that touches more than 5,000 people locally and more than 1.1 million people in the United States, we know every story, post, social network mention, participant, and contributor makes a tremendous difference. Your support is appreciated.