At the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) we are driven, each and every day, by a single goal: to save every life possible from the still fatal HIV epidemic.
The relentless pursuit of this goal has led us to a new frontier. In the coming hours ARCW and Saint Louis Effort for AIDS (EFA) will announce that we have joined together in the fight against AIDS. This merger expands our nationally renowned HIV Medical Home into St. Louis to provide unfettered access to care, strive for the finest clinical outcomes known to humankind and assure our financial strength so our patients can rely on us until the very final day of AIDS.
ARCW is both proud and humbled to join the strong response to HIV in the St. Louis area. We are excited to join forces with Bill Summers, MD, a long time St. Louis HIV physician, and the Washington University Infectious Disease clinic to establish the new HIV Medical Home slated to open in January, 2019. We are pleased to continue and strengthen historic local partnerships with Food Outreach, Doorways and many other organizations. We look forward to extend new services like our HIV-specialty mental health and dental clinics to address unmet needs in St. Louis. Together, we will achieve so much for people with HIV and individuals at greatest risk.
The merger of ARCW and EFA comes at a critical juncture in the fight against AIDS. Federal resources are being diverted away from providing medication to low income people with HIV, the twin epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases and opioid abuse are driving up HIV infections, and more than 90 percent of people in our country who can have their life saved from HIV – by taking a single daily pill – cannot access it. In St. Louis as many as 50 percent of people with HIV are not in care.
These are the latest in decades of challenges that HIV has presented. Challenges like homophobia and racism, isolation and illness, and poverty and prejudice. Challenges that together we will overcome.
A hallmark of ARCW is our dedication to innovation & expansion which is highlighted in our annual report. We extend this commitment with the merger, both in St. Louis and in the communities we currently serve. In St. Louis we will quickly expand services, continue the great work of EFA and honor long time traditions like the PAWS program. In Wisconsin we are doubling the amount of food provided through our pantries across the state and making a new $1 million investment in housing for our patients. And in Colorado we are pleased to double the staffing of our mental health program and open our first food pantry.
All of this is driven by our goal of saving lives from HIV.
Here is a quick video on the merger for you to view. Thanks again for your support of ARCW. Onward to the end of AIDS.
Michael J. Gifford
President & Chief Executive Officer
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW)
P.S. The fight against AIDS has taught me many lessons in my 25 years at ARCW. There are 25 I’d like to share with you. Follow me to join the conversation.