LGBTQ Rights – Recognized & Protected!

This is progress. Speaking truth! And making our voices heard.

PRC reminds our community of its commitment to justice in all its forms, as we celebrate the rights of LGBTQ workers that are now protected from employment discrimination in America.   

This week’s Supreme Court ruling has offered a glimmer of hope for our institutions, as we stand with our LGBTQ workers, leaders, clients, and the broader LGBT community.  It took countless allies and decades of advocacy around the nation to achieve the right for equality and human rights in the workplace, and we have now finally achieved the ability to break the chains of second class citizenship in our workforce.    

At a time in our democracy that grapples with how it treats Black Lives and the most vulnerable in Americawe are able to celebrate newly won protections for LGBTQ workers that have been treated without dignity for far too long.  We owe the past victims of insidious discrimination a debt of gratitude for speaking their truth, and making their voices heard.  This is progress, and PRC will continue to march toward further progress with all who join the fight for human dignity in America. 

Also read: PRC’s Stance on Justice, Black Lives Matter

And All That Pride…

Some things don’t have to change. We are who we are. Thank god.

While this pandemic will prevent us from marching down Market Street in colorful mass to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Pride parades held in San Francisco and New York City, it does not prevent us from coming together to celebrate ourselves, our hard-fought achievements, our rampant creativity, and our strength in community.

(As published in  the San Francisco Bay Times, May 21, 2020)

On the contrary, it should inspire us to do so regardless – safely, of course, with smart adherence to in-person social distancing guidelines, and plenty of aplomb.

I have long admired my good friends Donna Sachet and Gary Virginia—the most dynamic of duos—giving, doing, organizing, giving, convening, inspiring, doing, (did I mention giving?), entertaining, celebrating, and bringing it over and over again in big and small ways to meet community needs. So, I am not surprised that they will outdo themselves again this year.  

Their legendary Pride Brunch—the event of the seasonwill go on, June 27th, and everyone is invited!  

Donna and Gary's Brunch ChallengeFrom the comfort of your living room, kitchen, or dining room, Gary and Donna will bring you the Grand Marshals of the Pride Parade at high-noon on Saturday June 27th, honor the rich history of LGBTQ culture and liberation, and celebrate 50 years of San Francisco Pride with a saucy kitchen battle. The two will share their favorite brunch recipes and you will be the judge yourself, crowning the winner “Pride Brunch Queen.” 

We can sit back and relax with hosted cocktails and a delicious brunch delivered right to our respective doors. Or you can dance, parade, and sing along to live entertainment, live auctions, and special surprises in the privacy of your own home. This longstanding PRC fundraiser honors individuals and organizations fighting for LGBTQ equality, while raising critical dollars for PRC’s lifesaving services like legal advocacy, emergency financial assistance, residential treatment, and employment services. 

Celebrating 50 years of San Francisco community Pride, parading, and action, it is hard to believe how far the LGBTQ movement has come since the Stonewall riots eruptedawakening a new generation of legal and social advocacy. In retrospect, this turning point brings new lessons today amid this evolving era of worldwide COVID-19 public health emergency. We are all connected, and we are stronger when we stand together. 

As public consciousness is rising about that interconnectedness and our Country’s glaring health, income and access inequities, I am proud of San Francisco, our LGBT and allied communities. We’re on the frontlines, showing up for the most vulnerable again and again. And while there is still plenty of work to doI look forward to celebrating the contributions and opportunities brought by this year’s Grand Marshals—The LGBT Asylum Project, Founder of the Spahr Center Rev. Dr. Jane Spahr, and Executive Director of the LGBT Historical Society Terry Beswick—at this year’s virtual Pride Brunch.  

PRC, Pride Brunch’s beneficiary, has long fought for the most disenfranchised and health-challenged in our community on the frontlines of HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ advocacy for access to basic and critical resources. Today, these efforts are even more important as the impact of longstanding fissures in health status and experiences by race, geography, income, and identity are laid bare by the novel coronavirus. PRC is providing emergency funds for rent, medication, and connectivity; legal advocacy to preserve healthcare and subsistence income through job loss and upheaval; and emotional support and employment services to keep people moving forward; while also sheltering nearly 300 adults in place through a substance use and mental health treatment continuum prioritizing health, safety, and wellness.  

As a 55-year old African American gay man, I am both deeply familiar with the disconnection between legal equality and lived equality and deeply indebted to the collective advocacy of so many courageous individuals who were willing to hold the line, never back down, and stand in harm’s way. So, let’s come together on June 27th and celebrate what’s good and great about San Francisco Pride.

Inspired again by Gary and Donna, I think the dire issues of the day will continue to galvanize us – a  Inspired again by Gary and Donna, I think the dire issues of the day will continue to galvanize us – a strongereven more compassionate community. I choose joy, love, honesty, empathy, compassion and service along with a hint of leather, lipstick, and humor. So, let’s brunch 

How could we not celebrate Pride’s 50th anniversary. I’m already planning my outfit. Don’t miss the Battle of the Queens, Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet’s legendary Pride Bruch, streaming live at 12pm on June 27th. Tickets are on sale, so get yours today, and prepare to give big. See you there. 

HIV Prevention Starts with Each of Us:Women and Girls Awareness Day and Let’s End the HIV Epidemic Together

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]

There is great news! With today’s advancements in HIV/AIDS research and treatment it is possible to prevent HIV infection or passing the virus on to a partner or baby.  Some unique challenges women and girls face are related to STDs, which may increase the risk of HIV infection.

Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) is addressing the specific needs of women and girls who could be exposed to the virus or living with HIV.

Please take a minute to view this important message from Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

Follow these links to:

Learn more about National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Find a local HIV testing or a healthcare provider, visit locator.HIV.gov.

Find out more about PrEP at HIV.gov/PrEP and see if you qualify for the Ready, Set, PrEP at GetYourPrEP.com

Together, we can stop HIV.

Lift UP SF: A win-win-win for San Francisco

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 Tomorrow or 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.

Want to know more? Contact our Workforce Development team.
Want to contribute to support innovate solutions, like Lift UP SF? Donate here.
Keep Reading the Fall 2019 Frontline

PRC endorses U=U

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.

 

About PRC

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

It’s a Wrap!

Our hearts are full, and our doors are open! With your generosity, PRC’s Chair the Love campaign raised $36,310.

 

          

We are grateful. Time and again you show up for PRC and our clients.

Through Chair the Love, you helped furnish our clients’ experience during their journey toward better health, stable housing, and income growth within PRC’s new Integrated Service Center. Every step of the way, from their inital Client Services meeting through planning their next steps with an Employment Specialist, your support helps the over 5,000 adults living with HIV/AIDS, mental health, and substance use issues on their path to wellness each year.

But that’s not the end.

      

PRC has always been about community. Stay tuned for neighborhood and training events hosted at our community hub at 170 9th Street. Get updates: sign up for our newsletter and blogs, and follow us on social media for updates.

Together, we are changing lives and building community.

 

Covered California: Tax Filing Requirement for Consumers Receiving Premium Assistance

Some Californians, individuals, and families enrolled in Covered California (Covered CA) plans are eligible for financial assistance to lower the cost of their health insurance.  Anyone who receives financial assistance with Covered CA is required to file a federal tax return as a condition of eligibility.

Covered CA offers two main ways to get assistance with health care coverage costs:

  • Premium Assistance (formally called the Advanced Premium Tax Credit or APTC) is a tax credit to reduce an individual’s monthly premium.
  • Cost-Sharing Reductions is a subsidy to reduce an individual’s out-of-pocket costs (their copay’s, coinsurance, deductible and out-of-pocket maximum).

Important Information Regarding Premium Assistance and Tax Filing

All Covered CA consumers who receive Premium Assistance/APTC, must file federal taxes for each calendar year they receive the assistance. If they fail to file their taxes, they will lose their eligibility for Premium Assistance/APTC. The consumer will then be responsible for paying the full premium amount and will have a higher cost-sharing for health care services.

Warning Notices

Covered CA has mailed warning notices to those who are at risk of losing their Premium Assistance/APTC. These notices were sent to consumers who in 2017:

  • Received Premium Assistance/APTC in the calendar year but did not file a federal tax return for that year;
  • Filed a federal tax return but did not include IRS Form 8962; or
  • Requested an extension to file a federal tax return but did not end up filing the return.

Covered CA consumers who fall within any of these categories will have until May 15, 2019, to preserve their Premium Assistance/APTC by reconciling their premium assistance and contacting Covered California to attest to having done so.

If consumers fail to take these steps, they will receive another notice, in a pink envelope, that tells them when their financial assistance will end if no action is taken. Covered CA consumers who fail to take corrective action will lose their current financial help starting July 1, 2019.

I am an avid supporter of PRC. Here’s why.

As much as I can define myself as a happily married man, an engaged member of the San Francisco design community and an endlessly curious student of the human condition, I also would like to think that I am a responsible citizen of The City where I have lived for over 40 years.

Like many of us, I am seriously concerned about the problems that are facing our town right now. I believe that our city government is sincere in wrestling with these challenges but government can’t do it alone. Nor should they be expected to. That’s why I support PRC.

Starting with the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s, PRC learned that action is more important than words in making a difference in a person’s life. And in many cases, saving a person’s life. These were hard learned lessons but they did it with a no-nonsense approach tempered with compassion.

I love that they have now expanded that commitment to the issues of people who are also struggling with homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and having a healthy sense of their own self-worth. Regardless of how they define themselves. And PRC is doing this every day. They are not waiting for anyone’s permission or approval to do what they know has to be done. That is what makes real heroes and heroines.

I am thrilled that from their new Integrated Service Center, they will now serve our community with greater impact. I support PRC, and was happy to support them financially to underwrite the furnishings in this unique facility through their Chair the Love campaign. I invite everyone reading this to do the same. As responsible citizens we owe it to our City, ourselves and all those folks who need our help.

 

Tom DiRenzo

A&D Director, CRI

Latinx LGBTQ+ Mental Health

Each Mind Matters1(EMM) recently collaborated with a group of LGBTQ+ community leaders and stakeholders to come together and create informational materials on mental health issues faced by Latinx LGBTQ+. The materials focus on three key segments: young adults, older adults, and providers working with Latinx youth.

Latinx LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health Provider Fact Sheet2

This fact sheet helps providers working with Latinx LGBTQ+ youth address the complex connections that can have an impact on a young person’s life, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, and immigration status. The fact sheet provides relevant resources and best practices within a culturally responsive framework.

EMM also created a fully bilingual in Spanish and English resource online, which covers key terms for providers working with Latinx LGBTQ+ youth, things to consider as mental health professionals serving Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrant youth, and seeking benefits. At this time there are no printed copies available; however, the pamphlet is available free to download3.

EMM website is a resource for mental health and LGBTQ+ topics:

 

  1. https://www.eachmindmatters.org/
  2. https://emmresourcecenter.org/resources/latinx-lgtbq-immigrant-youthjovenes-inmigrantes-latinx-lgbtq-fact-sheet
  3. https://emmresourcecenter.org/system/files/2018-02/Latinx%20LGBTQ%20Immigrant%20Youth_Provider%20Fact%20Sheet_0.pdf
  4. https://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Latinx_A_Brief_Guidebook.pdf
  5. http://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Be-True-Be-You-LGBTQ-Booklet-DIGITAL.pdf
  6. http://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/LGBTQ-Mental-Health-Aging-Guide-DIGITAL.pdf