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Mark Senick

Local attorney Mark Senick Leads with his values

Thoughtful, loyal, and empathetic, Mark Senick is the kind of friend every organization hopes for.

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Sharing Gratitude for ALRP

Every case we work on is unique and potentially transformative for the people involved.  We are grateful for our extended community that makes our work possible.

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Save The Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Join ALRP for our Annual Reception & Auction at the historic Julia Morgan Ballroom in SF.
This beloved community event brings the legal community together to celebrate and honor three of our own! More info will follow soon!

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Bay Area Physicians Make an Impact

 

The Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights (BAPHR) is the world’s first organization of gay physicians. Founded in 1977 in San Francisco, the organization is dedicated to improving healthcare in our community and nurturing the careers of LGBTQ medical professionals in the greater Bay Area. BAPHR members have a robust and dedicated history of support for ALRP, and have made annual grants to ALRP since 2008.

 

“It means so much to us when a professional association like BAPHR sees the value of our work enough to make this kind of long-term commitment,” notes ALRP Executive Director Bill Hirsh, “It is wonderful to see what a few doctors and lawyers can do to address the health of people living with HIV.”

 

In the earliest days of the AIDS crisis, BAPHR physicians played a critical role in providing education, prevention services, and direct patient care during a time of immense fear and discrimination about the disease. Over the years BAPHR members have remained dedicated to the local community and to many organizations, like ALRP, which provide direct services to LGBTQ populations and those impacted by HIV. BAPHR’s Board President, Murtuza Ghadiali, MD, FASAM – puts it this way:

 

“We are so proud of BAPHR’s rich history in supporting the LGBTQ community, and we are grateful for our support from our BAPHR members that allow us to continue this work.  We are honored to be a longstanding supportive partner of ALRP.”

 

When people come to ALRP for help, they are often seeking to guard against disruptions to their housing, income, health care services and immigration status — which are vital to their very survival. Every day, we see how stable housing and access to care play a direct role in improving long-term health outcomes, while saving truly significant healthcare dollars that would otherwise be spent through City emergency systems.

It remains true as ever: Housing is healthcare. Recent studies show that only 20% of people with HIV who are unhoused are virally suppressed, while 80% of those with stable housing are virally suppressed. Viral suppression greatly reduces the risk of HIV transmission.[1]

BAPHR’s grant supports ALRP’s work on behalf of seniors living with HIV. With over 70% of people living with HIV now over age 50, BAPHR’s support allows us to serve this growing segment of the HIV community.

Thank you to BAPHR for your important collaboration with ALRP and the greater LGBTQ community.  Here’s to many more years of impactful work together!

 

For more information about BAPHR or to join as a member, visit:

http://www.baphr.org/

 

 

[1] JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes


Spring Major Donor Reception, Honoring Laura Maechtlen, Esq.

Thank you to the many friends and supporters who took the time to join the AIDS Legal Referral Panel at FABLE Restaurant on Wednesday May 25 – for our major donor party and ALRP’s inaugural return to gathering in person. We were delighted you could join us!

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L(HIV)ING LOUD Documentary Features ALRP’s Bill Hirsh

We are pleased to be a part of the documentary video, L(HIV)ING LOUD, that was created by journalism student Alessio Cavalca  in an effort to share the story of Jesus Heberto Guillen Solis, to highlight some of the challenges facing long term HIV survivors, and also to bring hope to those newly diagnosed with HIV. Jesus is a long-time friend of ALRP.  ALRP Executive Director Bill Hirsh was pleased to be featured in the film, which draws attention to some of the critical legal services ALRP makes available to the HIV community. Thank you, Jesus and Alessio, for allowing ALRP to be a part of this beautiful project.


Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers!

 

For Volunteer Appreciation week, we want to share how grateful we are to our wonderful volunteers. Whether a volunteer in our office, at our events, or on our Panel, you make a difference in the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. Thank you.


ALRP Supports UCSF Public Psychiatry Fellowship

ALRP Executive Director Bill Hirsh appeared on a panel for UCSF Public Psychiatry Fellows organized by Jim Dilley, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at UCSF and Co-Director of UCSF Alliance Health Project. The fellows are engaged in serving vulnerable populations in San Francisco and exploring how organizational structure builds leadership in the community. Bill discussed his work serving people living with disabilities and shared some of the successes and challenges of leading a nonprofit organization for over twenty years.


We are Hiring: Staff Attorney-Housing Advocacy and Eviction Defense

ALRP seeks a Staff Attorney to join our growing HIV/AIDS Housing Advocacy Project. The Staff Attorney will provide direct services to people living with HIV/AIDS in a variety of legal issues related to housing, with a primary focus on eviction defense litigation. This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of San Francisco’s groundbreaking “right-to-counsel” initiative, which guarantees that every tenant facing eviction has access to full-scope legal representation. We are looking for a highly-motivated individual interested in working in a cooperative, flexible office, committed to social justice. Salary: $75,000. Excellent benefits.   People of color, women, those with Spanish language skills, and those with disabilities, including HIV, encouraged to apply. Position open until filled.

Click here for more details.


SF Budget, Federal Agency Fund Local HIV Programs

San Francisco officials allocated $2.6 million for local HIV programs over the next two years in the fiscal budget adopted by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that advocates had been seeking. The funding includes money to address the mental health and housing needs of long-term HIV survivors.

Also on July 27 the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced $117 million in funding for states and local health departments as part of the second major round of investment in the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. San Francisco will receive $3.09 million of the funds.

“That funding will certainly help to shore up the system of care for people living with, and at risk for, HIV,” said AIDS Legal Referral Panel Executive Director Bill Hirsh. “I think the federal government is proposing, at least the Democrats in Congress are proposing, some significant increases in funding to services for people with HIV. I am hopeful this is reflective of prioritizing the needs of these underserved communities.”

Under the EHE initiative San Francisco is receiving $2.29 million; it is also being allocated $800,000 under the CDC’s Scaling Up HIV Prevention Services in STD Clinics funds. It comes as health officials raise concerns about seeing sexually transmitted diseases rise due to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted and people stop self-isolating from others.

“We are committed to making the end of HIV in the U.S. a reality,” stated Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, formerly California’s attorney general. “That is why this initiative, and responding to COVID-19’s impact on the HIV epidemic, is so critical to tackle for the Biden-Harris administration.”

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said it was “very grateful” to receive the funds from the EHE initiative, which aims to cut new HIV infections in the United States by at least 90% by 2030. The department said it would use the funds particularly for programs aimed at people of color; transgender women; people experiencing homelessness; people who use drugs; and people who have recent histories with or are currently incarcerated.

With the EHE funding, DPH said it “will augment targeted community-based services, create new innovative services, use a harm reduction framework, and eliminate eligibility silos for prevention and care services to turn the curve on HIV/HCV/STIs.”

As for the local funding included in San Francisco’s two-year budget for the fiscal years covering July 1, 2021 through July 1, 2023, programs aimed at addressing the mental health needs of long-term HIV survivors will receive $200,000 in both years. Housing subsidies totaling $750,000 per year will go toward people living with HIV, which average $10,000 a year per person.

Another $350,000 each year is designated toward covering the increase in the cost of doing business faced by HIV service providers that receive city contracts funded by federal grants. It is to mirror the extra money built into the contracts funded by local dollars that agencies are awarded to cover their increased expenses, such as labor costs, that they must budget for each year.

“As costs rise there is a real net loss of services for folks, so we were able to secure a modest cost of doing business increase, a little more than 2%, for Ryan White contracts,” said Hirsh, referring to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

Hirsh co-chairs the city’s HIV/AIDS Provider Network, known as HAPN, which worked closely with city officials and gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to secure the HIV funding in the city budget. He was especially pleased to see the mental health funds be included.

“I think it is important to remember San Francisco has sustained its commitment to the safety net of services for people living with HIV. It is a partnership between the nonprofit community and the city for many years now,” said Hirsh, noting that this year’s budget negotiations were particularly challenging. “We felt very good that the city was continuing its commitment to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic and trying, in some modest way, to respond to the needs of the community, especially around mental health services for long-term survivors and housing subsidies because we know housing is health care for people living with HIV.”

Mandelman told the B.A.R. it was particularly important to fund the mental health programs for long-term HIV survivors who have had to self-isolate at home due to the COVID pandemic and continue to restrict their social interactions due to the more contagious Delta variant now sweeping across California and the Bay Area. The housing funds will also help to avert a crisis among people living with HIV as local and state eviction moratoriums come to an end later this year.

“This has been a really rough year for everyone, but I think particularly for long-term HIV survivors. I think additional investment in mental health and housing subsidies are really important right now,” said Mandelman. “We don’t know exactly what is going to happen when the eviction moratorium comes to an end. The fear is increased homelessness and more people at risk of homelessness. We need to do everything we can to support long-term survivors and their health.”

Contract change postponed
Another victory in this year’s budget talks for HIV service providers was a commitment from the city’s DPH to postpone a change in how it allocates up to $3 million in contracts for HIV prevention services until next summer. The agency wants to shift the funds toward programs focused on marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by HIV that take a more holistic approach and also address STDs and hepatitis.

The change was to have been implemented in early 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID pandemic. While HIV advocates agree in the new direction the department wants to take, they are also concerned it could result in the loss of existing services that providers have offered for nearly a decade depending on how the contracts are awarded.

“We could lose a ton if we are not funded, so much of it is unknown at this point,” said HAPN co-chair Lance Toma, CEO of the San Francisco Community Health Center. “We need to know what the awards are so we can make thoughtful and clear and accurate assessments of what are the services that may be lost and where are the holes in the safety net.”

The health department told the B.A.R. it is “committed to completing the RFP results and we are working to finalize the timeline for the funding announcement as rapidly as possible given ongoing demand for COVID-19 services and staffing shortages due to COVID-19 deployment.”

Advocates hope the postponement in awarding the new contracts will provide them more time to convince city health officials they should be increasing the budget for HIV services rather than simply reallocating the existing funds. Mandelman has been advocating for such an approach.

“I think DPH is a very large department with a lot of funding. I think it can come up with this new approach to build capacity and focus on new ways to reach communities that continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV,” he said. “I support that. But I don’t want to stop agencies doing the prevention work that has been so successful in getting us to under 200 new infections a year.”

He told the B.A.R. he remains hopeful a solution can be worked out, as “this gives us an additional year to figure out how to do that.”

 

 

This story originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter and can be viewed online here.


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