June 14, 2011
Quick Facts About
Welcome to TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Organization Spotlight series, in which we focus on some of the true unsung heroes of the HIV community: the organizations that support and provide services for individuals living with, or at risk for, HIV. We profile some of the best in the U.S. and learn how they got started, what challenges they face and what's in store for them in the future.
This week, we turn our sights on southern Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS through 2010 was 97,978. And as of June 10, 2011, the Florida AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list was up to 3,520 people. Yet those daunting numbers haven't stopped Care Resource from providing services to the HIV community as it has for the past 27 years. In fact, the state's recent troubles have only reinforced how vital Care Resource's services are to the community.
TheBody.com recently interviewed Christopher Donahue, the public relations and marketing manager of Care Resource.
What was Care Resource's original mission, and how has it changed over time?
Care Resource is dedicated to providing culturally appropriate counseling, support services, primary medical care, clinical trials, information and referrals, community outreach, education, prevention services and early intervention services to men, women and children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS around Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Care Resource originally aimed to provide services to help end the HIV pandemic. However, the organization has now evolved and the current mission is to provide services to improve upon the health and overall quality of life of our diverse South Florida communities in need.
What services do you currently offer?
Recognizing the need for quality medical care for our clients' partners and families, as well as others in the community, the board of directors of Care Resource made the decision to expand services beyond diagnosis of HIV/AIDS to provide primary medical services to children, adolescents, adults and seniors with a focus on our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The Care Resource facility in Fort Lauderdale has been designated as a federally qualified health center and both facilities are now providing comprehensive health and support services to address the full health care needs of our clients. Services include child services, gynecological care, general adult primary care, oral health, HIV primary care, research, diagnostic laboratory and X-ray, screenings, immunizations, voluntary family planning and referrals to obstetrical and other specialty care services. Support services include case management, mental health and substance abuse counseling, HIV testing, outreach, nutrition and referrals to WIC [the federal government's Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children]. As a leader in providing HIV/AIDS disease management control for over 27 years, Care Resource is uniquely positioned to assist our patients in long-term disease management.
What are some of the challenges that Care Resource faces?
Care Resource faces numerous challenges daily. However, our biggest challenge is overcoming apathy and community burnout. The younger generation tends to have a lackadaisical attitude to HIV, which perpetuates a dangerous cycle. Our greatest goal is to one day have no one need for our HIV/AIDS services.
Any difficulties specific to being in Florida, which has the highest number of people on the ADAP waiting list at 3,520 people?
Any HIV-positive individual whose household income is less than 400 percent of the poverty level is eligible for ADAP. The Florida government is changing the eligibility to be less than 200 percent, effectively to drop people from the waiting list, which makes it all the more difficult to help our clients. Especially when Fort Lauderdale ranks first and Miami ranks second in AIDS rates among metropolitan areas in the United States. In 2005, more than 40,000 people were living with HIV/AIDS throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties combined. A high percentage of these individuals are not in care and hundreds more do not even know their HIV status. The state of the epidemic continues to grow and change, which is why we need support for HIV education, prevention, research and treatment.
What, for you, is the most rewarding aspect of working at an organization such as yours?
The most rewarding part is the ability to bring patients into care with us, especially those who are underserved or have fallen out of care for some time.
What is one thing people probably don't know about Care Resource that they should?
Care Resource is now a federally qualified health center and we recently expanded our services to include dental. Another surprising fact that many people do not know is that 43 percent of our clients are women.
What direction is the organization moving toward? Where do you see Care Resource three years from now?
Care Resource is constantly expanding our numerous medical programs to better serve the health needs of our local LGBT community. We have recently started transitioning to become a primary care provider. The majority of our work still lies with HIV/AIDS, but the face of HIV/AIDS is changing so we felt it was necessary to expand our services to be the first LGBTQ community health provider for South Florida.
For information about how to obtain assistance from Care Resource, or if you'd like to volunteer or donate, please visit Care Resource's Web site.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Warren Tong is the research editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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