PRC would like to congratulation the San Francisco HIV Frontline Organizing Group (SF HIV FOG) for the acceptance of their AIDS2020 abstract: CREATING A PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY OF FRONTLINE WORKERS AS AN INNOVATIVE METHOD TO IMPROVE THE CARE OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS.
Below is the poster which was shown at the virtual AIDS2020 conference, July 6 thru 10.
Every year on March 10th, the U.S. observes National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
HIV prevention and treatment are critical to reducing new HIV cases among women and girls. Women and girls – as well as their partners, friends, and family members who care about them – are encouraged to learn more about how they can take control of their own health to prevent and treat HIV.
HIV/AIDS is an equality opportunity virus. Any woman or girl who is sexually active can contract HIV/AIDS regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. However, statistics show that African American and Latinx women and girls have a higher chance of acquiring HIV than their counterparts. [Facts https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/women/index.html]
Inside PRC’s buzzing 24-station Computer Learning Center, more than 100 people like Marilyn, Kim, and Sam are building digital literacy and skills to grow their income and workforce engagement.
“I’m so excited to move forward and into the workforce again.”
Outdated skills and gaps in employment can be hard to face, so PRC Workforce Development offers skill and community building opportunities that get people trained-up, confident, and back on their feet. Two accredited programs—Next Step Computer Training and Step Up Administrative Training—provide 64 combined hours of digital literacy and office skills readying people with mental and physical health disabilities for competitive internships and employment opportunities. Last year, PRC ran 20 cycles graduating 106 trainees!
“I have a better grasp on how this [technology] works…finally.”
The results speak for themselves. In 2019, employed graduates saw their annual incomes increase 337%.
People with disabilities experience three times the unemployment rate of the general population. But PRC is getting people into the workforce at more than double the statewide rate. When PRC opened the Integrated Service Center’s doors in April 2019, our computer lab’s capacity more than doubled, and the Workforce Development team began to ramp up classes, programs, and skill building opportunities. In less than one year, with the same high quality, high impact instruction, enrollment is up 30%.
“I can’t place a value on this experience. It was motivational, personally uplifting, and I learned so much in such a short time.”
PRC also launched LIFT UP SF – Lifting Up Peers for a Brighter Tomorrow – a 64-hour curriculum putting real life experience with mental health and substance use services to work for graduates as peer professionals across public health and social service fields. The first cohort just entered paid traineeships, the final step in advance of competitive employment placements at PRC and partner health agencies across San Francisco. The second cohort is double in size, with 15 students gaining competencies to put their lived experience to work advancing community health.
For graduates like Phil(not pictured), opportunities like Next Step, Step Up, and LIFT UP SF are transformational.A longtime PRC client, Phil has overcome drug addiction and homelessness. Fifteen years ago, when he was newly diagnosed with HIV, Phil accessed PRC’s legal services to secure disability benefits. Most recently he’s moving forward with PRC workforce development. “I feel really good right now in my recovery; I’m mentally stable and poised to be able to go off of disability [benefits] and back into the workforce…Butthe highlight of [LIFT UP SF] is the overall realization that my life experience is worth something. I can connect with that person going down a certain path…help people who are drug addicted, homeless, and in health crisis to get from that place—from where I was stuck—to where I am now.”
“My objective is to find a place where I’m happy and a place to grow”
On top of skills-based training and practice in the lab, clients work with PRC specialists to accessed tailored supports in resume and cover letter writing, skills inventories, vocational assessments, interview preparation, and post-placement counseling. PRC partners with some of the largest employers in San Francisco including the University of California at San Francisco, the City and County of San Francisco, the State of California, Apple, Genentech, Target, H+R Block, Starbucks, Blue Apron, Hyatt, Genentech, Uber, Alaska Airlines, Salesforce, Apple, Old Navy, and Whole Foods. The average wage of clients placed in employment was $20.66 per hour in 2018, 38% higher than the local minimum wage.
Congratulations to all our participants and graduates! We’re proud to stand with you, moving forward.
If you have HIV or AIDS, and your symptoms have advanced and made it impossible for you to work and earn a living, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two different disability programs that offer monthly benefits to disabled workers. A medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, is used to determine if an individual meets the medical criteria to qualify for disability benefits. There are several listings in the Blue Book that may apply to an HIV or AIDS diagnosis, but there is a specific listing that focuses on the condition itself.
Meeting the Medical Criteria
Section 14.00 of the Blue Book applies to adult immune system disorders. Listing 14.11 itself applies to HIV infection itself. To qualify using this listing, you must provide documentation to confirm your diagnosis, and you must also be able to prove one of the following:
Multicentric Castleman disease that affects multiple groups of organs containing lymphoid tissue or lymph nodes OR
Primary effusion lymphoma OR
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalolopathy OR
Primary central nervous system lymphoma OR
Pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma OR
Absolute CD4 count of 50 cells/mm3 or less OR
Absolute CD4 count of less than 200 cells/mm3 or CD4 percentage of less than 14 percent, and one of the following – BMI measurement of less than 18.5, hemoglobin measurement of less than 8.0 grams per deciliter, or complications of HIV infection requiring a minimum of three hospitalizations within a 12-month period at least 30 days apart with each hospitalization lasting no less than 48 hours.
For your claim to be successful, you must provide hard medical evidence that includes test results and different laboratory tests that confirm your diagnosis and that support your claim. Any opportunistic diseases that you have been diagnosed with should have indications of a cell-mediated immunity and should have been diagnosed by the proper testing. As an example, provide biopsy results for any cancer diagnosis and biopsy results for toxoplasmosis of the brain. You should provide detailed records that confirm any systems, restrictions, and limitations, such as headaches, fever, brain lesions, and seizures.
Even if your diagnosis does not meet any of the specific Listings set out above, you can still be found disabled if you can show that your impairment prevents you from being able to perform the functions of your past relevant work or other full time work.
Medical tests, including positive serology tests, should be provided to help confirm the diagnosis and its severity. Some blood tests, including CD4 tests, aren’t adequate for confirming a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS. Remember, hard medical evidence and supporting documentation are essential for a disability claim to be successful.
Applying for Disability Benefits
If you are unable to work because of HIV or AIDS, or because of an opportunistic disease resulting from either of those conditions, you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits. You can start your application process online at the SSA’s website or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and talking with a representative or by scheduling an appointment at your local SSA field office. While it sometimes takes months for a claim to be approved, the more documentation that you provide to support your claim, the more likely you are to get an approval and be awarded disability benefits.
On September 3, 2019, the California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS released the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Client portal.
Using the portal, clients enrolled in ADAP can:
View their client ID, enrollment site, enrollment worker contact information, eligibility status, and eligibility end date
View the Insurance Assistance Program information if enrolled, including program type (OA-HIPP, EB-HIPP, or MDPP), insurance carrier, eligibility status, and eligibility end date
Elect to receive automatic notifications about eligibility and re-enrollment
Recertify if there are no changes to residency or health insurance and annual household income is within program limits
To request access to the Client Portal, contact the ADAP Call Center at 1-844-421-7050, Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. After requesting access, the client will receive an email with a URL to the client portal. Using the link, the client will enter their email address as the username and a temporary password, and then be prompted to create a new password. Contact the ADAP Call Center, with any issues accessing the Client Portal.
We’re proud to introduce a new pathway to personal and economic growth for the thousands of people overcoming mental health, HIV or substance use challenges each year in San Francisco. One of five California programs selected, the Office of Statewide Health Planning will invest nearly $500,000 over two years in PRC’s award winning workforce development model. The result? We’re scaling up a peer-to-peer occupational training pathway recently launched in partnership with San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. Lifting Up Peers for a Brighter Tomorrowor Lift UP SF is a win for consumers, a win for behavioral health services providers, and a win for San Francisco.
Lift UP SF readies consumers—people in and exiting mental health and substance use treatment programs, family members, and caregivers—to put their lived experience to use on a competitive career path. It spans a 64-hour comprehensive training curriculum designed by advocates and consumers, individualized placement support, and peer group services to prepare graduates for volunteer, part-time, and full-time peer positions in the most common health settings: Social and Human Service Assistants, Case Workers, Case Managers, Client Advocates, Family Self-Sufficiency Specialists, and Independent Living Specialists among others.
Leveraging the experience of people with lived experience in mental health, substance use, and public health systems doesn’t just make sense, it’s proven to result in better outcomes for consumers on both sides of the interaction.
Beyond professional skill delivery, peer specialists in health settings share the same vocabulary as those they help, have credibility, and embody an accessible vision of success. Paid or volunteer employment is also a key component of recovery from mental health and substance use disorders, particularly methamphetamine addiction. The act of going to training, getting placed in employment, and accessing a supportive community support throughout this process dramatically improves an individual’s ability to maintain their recovery.
This pathway is timely, right here and right now. San Francisco has very low unemployment (1.9%) overall, but prosperity and stability are not shared equitably across our community. A high cost of living, driven primarily by housing expenses, strains many long-time residents and the populations PRC serves. African Americans and other communities of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, people with behavioral health disorders, and people living with HIV are overrepresented among the unemployed and have lower than average salaries, placing them at high risk for displacement and homelessness. People with lower incomes also have higher rates of mental health disorders.
It’s a circular argument Lift UP SF seeks to disrupt.
The training program specifically reaches into these under-employed consumer groups to provide more than a living wage. An increasing economic outlook seeds hope, and a career trajectory positions consumers—people like those exiting PRC’s 30/60/90 day treatment programs or in our co-op living around the city—to progress through the continuum of care and transition successfully to independent living.
As a result, not only do we expect to decrease unemployment among Bay Area residents impacted by mental illness, substance use disorder, and/or HIV/AIDS and to expedite treatment program exits making room for more people to access needed treatment services, Lift UP SF will develop a diverse, representative pool of qualified, culturally competent staff to help alleviate the worker shortage in behavioral health settings across San Francisco and beyond. PRC’s program launches with more than 17 partners—from Castro Country Club and the City of San Francisco Community Behavioral Health Services to Native American Health Center, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and Alameda and Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Programs—already signed on and seeking to fill already identified peer staffing shortages across public mental health services.
It’s been a tremendous year at PRC, and I’m pleased to share PRC’s 2019 Impact Report with you today.
As you’ll learn, PRC’s staff, volunteers, and clients have been hard at work transforming lives and the systems San Francisco has in place to support vulnerable adults. We opened PRC’s new Integrated Service Center in April 2019 to improve the way people affected by mental health issues, substance use, and HIV/AIDS access crisis intervention, stabilizing services, and longer term supports when they’re needed. In 2018, we helped 5,419 adults.
At PRC we’re addressing the nexus of poverty, stigma, discrimination, and isolation head-on to prevent hopelessness and connect people—like John on page 5 or Liliana on page 7—with new and better paths out of poverty and addiction, illness and stigma, homelessness and decline.
Honesty and innovation are key to moving past the status quo. In San Francisco, as across the nation, we are all challenged to reflect on a rising population of homeless adults and redress inequities in health and resource distribution. You and I may have a support network, a safety net, a couch, or access to money for treatment services or prescription medication when it’s needed. For those among us who do not, whether it’s a brief moment of free fall or a life-long health issue to manage and best, PRC is here: a bridge to hope, to health, and to wellness.
I invite you to read on, be inspired, bring your questions, and share with a friend.
SAN FRANCISCO (June 20, 2019) – PRC, whose nonprofit mission is to provide a variety of legal, social and health services to San Francisco residents affected by HIV/AIDS, substance use or mental health issues, has announced its official endorsement of the Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) campaign.
Whether one is affected by HIV or is HIV negative, it is important to know and understand U=U. The U=U campaign was born in New York City and has quickly spread across North America and the global community.
The stigma associated with HIV remains one of the greatest barriers for people in accessing HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and support. PRC’s endorsement of U=U sends a clear message that sharing the knowledge regarding U=U with our San Francisco community is an urgent priority to save lives and fight stigma, as well as is a call to take action to help spread the message.
U=U (Undectable equals Untransmittable) has unequivocally been supported by scientific evidence. It shows that, when an individual is in HIV Treatment and maintains a suppressed viral load, there is effectively no risk of transmission to their partner during sex.
Through its partnership with Getting to Zero San Francisco, PRC is committed to preventing new HIV diagnoses and supporting people living with HIV to stay in treatment so they can live their best lives.
Continued support of campaigns like U=U is critical to ending HIV-related stigma. This will help us achieve the goals of preventing new diagnoses, reaching undiagnosed individuals, and ensuring that people living with HIV receive the care, treatment and support they need.
PRC (formerly Positive Resource Center) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps people affected by HIV/AIDS, substance use or mental health issues better realize the opportunities available to them. PRC provides integrated legal, social, and health services to address the broad range of social risk factors that impact wellness and limit potential. In 2017, the organization merged with AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF), an emergency financial assistance provider for low-income residents living with HIV/AIDS, and Baker Places, an agency that provides a comprehensive array of residential treatment services to people with mental health, substance use, and HIV/AIDS-related issues. Combined, the three organizations represent a 115-year history of service and serve approximately 5,000 clients annually. For more information, please visit www.prcsf.org