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Local and Community News

California: AIDS Project East Bay Lights Fire for HIV Awareness

July 3, 2003

As the first and one of the most prominent AIDS service organizations in the East Bay, AIDS Project East Bay in downtown Oakland, Calif., fights the ignorance and denial surrounding HIV/AIDS on a daily basis. And for APEB, which primarily serves low-income people of color in Alameda County, it is an uphill battle.

In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, blacks in Alameda County represented just one-fifth of annual AIDS cases, but since 1995 they have made up half or more of the annual AIDS cases, according to the county's 2001 epidemiology report. Yet despite the attention surrounding the county's 1998 declaration of a public health emergency, the situation has changed little since then, according to Hazel Wesson, executive director of APEB.

Approximately 75 percent of APEB's clientele are African-American and 10 percent are Latino. All services provided are free for clients, who can get assistance with the most basic needs -- food, transportation, housing, public benefits, counseling, case management and support for recovery from substance abuse. Medical care is provided at the Wellness Center, which is run in collaboration with Highland Hospital.

Like all AIDS organizations, Wesson noted, APEB has adjusted to the fact that people with AIDS are living longer. The staff has transitioned from constantly triaging to focusing on long-term mental health and planning.

Jay Hernandez weighed 117 pounds and was waiting to die when he came to APEB three years ago. The center gave him food and transportation vouchers, referred him to a support group for gay Latino men, and helped him get clean after 17 years of doing speed. "When I found out that I wasn't going to die, I had to get back to living," said Hernandez. "Basically this organization helped me go on."

Back to other CDC news for July 3, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
San Francisco Chronicle
06.27.03; Rona Marech

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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.
See Also
More News and Articles on HIV Groups and Medical Care in California