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Local and Community News

San Francisco: A Friend in Need for Friends in Need

May 31, 2002

San Francisco's AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and interim Director B.J. Stiles and others are developing events to pay tribute to the supporters and volunteers who have helped AEF provide grants to clients in need. Much of that grant money has come from the $20 million volunteers have collected. One of AEF's most notable events is "Every Penny Counts Day," in which Bay Area students (more than 43,000 in 2001) collect coins for the agency.

Recent years have seen AEF's ranks depleted by illness and attrition. The common misconception, fueled by improved drug therapy, that the epidemic is ending also hurt AEF -- even as its client base has grown. In an effort to rebuild and refresh the organization, AEF launched the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF) a year ago. Staff members realized that breast cancer patients often face many of the same traumas as people with HIV. Women have always been active in AEF; the expansion made the organization even more relevant for them. The economic downturn has also affected the amount of money AEF has to distribute. While AEF's AIDS program receives some grants and Ryan White CARE funds, the BCEF is entirely contribution-funded.

AEF makes emergency funds available to low-income people who are in serious financial straits due to a diagnosis of a disabling illness related to AIDS or breast cancer. AEF estimates that one-third of those diagnosed with AIDS exhaust their financial resources relatively quickly and end up living at subsistence levels. If their monthly income drops below $1,960, AEF is there to help. AEF never writes checks to clients; rather, using non-identifying checks to prevent unintentional "outing," it makes them out to utility companies and landlords. Monitoring procedures, including double-signing of checks, helps ensure there are no improprieties. To learn more about AEF, telephone 415-558-6999 or visit

Back to other CDC news for May 31, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
San Francisco Frontiers
05.17.02; Jim Hunger

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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