World AIDS Day: A Time of Hope & Remembrance

Tyler TerMeer
Executive Director

World AIDS Day is upon us again.  For me, World AIDS Day has always been a time of reflection and remembrance. A time for me to remember those individuals lost along this journey and to reflect on the ways in which HIV has changed the course of my life.

However, this World AIDS Day feels different. This year has felt a bit like we have been under siege.  We have been bombarded with efforts to deprive people of healthcare and attacks on programs that people living with HIV have come to depend. We have felt the tide of racism, xenophobia and misogyny rising. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the negativity and fear.

That’s why on this World AIDS Day I am focusing on the ways in which my own life has been enriched. For nearly 14 years I have been living with HIV. As a 34-year-old, gay, HIV positive man of color, I have faced my share of stigma and fear. But I’ve also come to understand the tremendous courage, strength, and compassion that many people have shown in the face of this disease. Personally, becoming positive was a transformation for which I will always be profoundly grateful as it gave me a perspective that was bigger than myself. It catapulted me from a career in the arts to working in HIV policy and activism and it gave me the opportunity to work with and for people most impacted by the epidemic. 

So, this morning, I am thinking of how we can build on our progress and reimagine a new path forward to end the epidemic. We have traveled a long way from the dark beginnings of this disease and have come so far in the fight. The rate of new infections is decreasing and we are diagnosing people earlier. We have a pill, commonly known as PrEP, that when taken consistently can help prevent HIV infection.  Once diagnosed and connected to care, people living with HIV can lead long and vibrant lives. And science now confirms that individuals living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load are no longer able to transmit the virus to others.

In short, there is much to be joyful about even as we grapple with the challenges of our time. As Dr. Maya Angelou famously said “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

As we celebrate and remember on this World AIDS Day, we must take her words to heart. We will encounter these challenges, learn how to rise from them, and come out of this stronger together.

Sincerely, Tyler

CAP Awarded $50,000 To Start HIV & Aging Program

CAP is proud to announce that it has been awarded $50,000 from Gilead Sciences, Inc. to create a program to work with individuals aged 50 years and over who are living with HIV.

Kendra Castaldo, Director of Housing and Support Services

“In preparation for this grant opportunity, we conducted a survey of our existing clients aged 50 and over and we identified a need for improved age-specific services—especially around information and resource referrals,” said Kendra Castaldo, CAP’s Director of Housing and Support Services. “With this grant, we will be able to spend the next year reviewing client needs and determining what barriers exist and then build capacity in our staff to address the issues affecting this important part of our community. This is a novel program for an AIDS Service Organization and we are excited to share our findings with our peers.”

“A key component of the HIV and Aging program is CAP’s relationship with the community organization, Let’s Kick Ass Portland (LKA). This grant enables us to support LKA’s existing social gatherings and work with their existing community of long-term survivors of the HIV epidemic to gain invaluable insight about the needs of this population,” said Tyler TerMeer, CAP’s Executive Director. “Our hope and expectation is that this program and partnership with LKA will enable us to improve the quality of life for individuals aged 50 or older who are living with HIV for many years to come!”

The grant will fund CAP’s HIV and Aging Program for one year. CAP will invest additional resources to develop permanent staff capacity and produce a robust resource library for clients that will be accessible after the grant period ends.

Download the full press release here: HIV & Aging Press Release

CAP Adopt 12-Weeks Paid Family Leave Policy

CAP is proud to announce that it has adopted a paid family leave policy which will provide every qualifying employee with 12-weeks of paid leave to allow them ample time to care for family members including the arrival of a new child or to deal with a serious health condition.

The benefit will be available to any employee that qualifies under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) guidelines. In addition, CAP continues to provide full benefits for all employees working forty percent (40%) of full time and above including full health care coverage and vacation and sick leave on a pro rata basis.

“As a public health agency, CAP is committed to promoting health and equity for all its employees, and this includes family stability,” said Tyler TerMeer, CAP’s Executive Director. “Under this new policy, all staff who qualify for a leave of absence under OFLA/FMLA, will be eligible to have this leave paid as a separate benefit and will not be required to first exhaust their accrued vacation or sick time. We are hopeful that this new paid leave provision will support individuals in taking time to care for a new child (e.g. birth, adoption, or fostering) or for a serious health condition.”

CAP believes that all workers in Oregon should be able to access paid family leave as it preserves the dignity of work and family through both joyous and difficult times.

HIV and STD Organizations Denounce Trump Administration’s Actions to Degrade the Affordable Care Act

Following repeated legislative defeats to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump is taking steps to further sabotage the ACA.  This includes ending cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments to issuers and issuing an executive order that would destabilize the health care marketplace and erode patient protections.

Both actions would have devastating effects on people living with or at risk of HIV and STDs.  Ending the $7 billion in CSR payments would serve to increase premiums and force the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to bear a greater share of insurance costs.  It would drive insurance companies out of the state health care marketplaces and in turn, put the marketplaces out of business.

In addition to this action, President Trump signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to expand association health plans and short-term limited insurance.  Such plans would not have to meet “essential health benefits,” virtually ensuring they will be useless for people with pre-existing conditions, including people living with HIV and STDs.  The executive order creates the opportunity for younger and healthier people to exit the more regulated marketplaces and destabilize the entire insurance market

We urge the courts to end the illegal action to halt payment of the CSRs. We also call on Congress to quickly approve bipartisan legislation to stabilize the marketplace and extend CSR payments. People living with HIV and other STDs, particularly people of color, often face multiple barriers to accessing the care and treatment they need to stay healthy. The President’s actions would only strengthen these barriers, making it even more difficult for these communities most impacted by HIV to receive the care they need.

CAP and PSU partner for Chime In

The Oregon Health Authority is working on a collaborative project with Portland State University and Cascade AIDS Project called Chime In. The project recruits community members at different venues – bars, clubs, sporting events, social and community events in the Portland and Vancouver area, to take a men’s health survey and HIV test. Participants who are recruited by Chime In staff at these venues can receive up to $50 cash for taking the survey and an HIV test. If you are approached by a Chime In staff member for the project, please participate! The information collected in the survey is completely anonymous, and will help improve and maintain existing prevention programs for people in the community.

You can find more information at www.chimeinsurvey.org or check us out on Instagram @chimeinsurvey

HIV Coalition Letter To Community

           

To Our Community:

As you know, there has been a lot of uncertainty in recent months about funding for health care, particularly at the national level. Threats of budget cuts for health care and prevention programs, attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and other actions are causing worry among people living with HIV/AIDS who access these federally funded programs and services so they can stay healthy and vibrant.

We want to assure you that efforts are underway to protect existing programs and funding, and minimize the effects of these threats to health care services that protect the lives and well-being of Oregonians. To that end, we the undersigned organizations, which have a long history of collaboration, have formed the Coalition of Oregon HIV Community Organizations. The coalition meets regularly to monitor policy changes and collaborate on ways to preserve and protect access to health care and services for people in Oregon living with HIV/AIDS. We encourage you to contact any of the coalition member organizations if you have any questions.

Coping with these uncertain times can be extremely stressful.  We want to help you take all steps necessary to stay healthy, strong and well. If you are experiencing distress or mental anguish, please take advantage of the following resources and reach out to those organizations with which you have established relationships:
Multnomah County Crisis Line – 503-988-4888

The Trevor Project – 866-588-7386
Trevor Chat – online messaging service
Youth Talkline – 800-246-7743
Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860
The GLBT National Helpline – 888-843-4564
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255
Line for Life – 800-273-8255 or test 273Talk to 839863
Alcohol & Drug Helpline 800-923-4357 or text RecoveryNow to 839863

Know that we are committed to our missions to continue providing access to services and health care that support communities and individuals living with HIV/AIDS so they can lead healthy and vibrant lives. Uncertainty at the national level won’t deter us from the important work of addressing the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS.

Yours in health and wellness,

Tyler TerMeer, Cascade AIDS Project

Rene Yandel, HIV Alliance

Mika Mulkey, HIV Day Center

Margy Robinson & Jodi Davich, Multnomah County Health Department

Lillian Shirley, Oregon Health Authority

Mary Rita Hurley, Our House

Julia Lager-Mesulam, Partnership Project

Dr. David Eisen, Quest Center for Integrative Health

State of Oregon Awards CAP $1M for Prism Health!

CAP is thrilled to announce that it has been allocated $1M in Oregon State Lottery bonds to repay costs related to the acquisition and renovation of Prism Health, CAP’s LGBTQ+ Primary Care Health Center.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D – North Portland)

“This allocation of $1M in lottery bonds for Prism Health is a significant statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community from the state legislature and our Governor,” said CAP’s Executive Director, Tyler TerMeer. “We are honored and humbled by this show of trust in the work we are doing to provide safe, affirming, and culturally effective health care to the LGBTQ+ community. Since opening in May of 2017, we have had patients travel from all over Oregon to receive services from Prism.”

“I am proud to have been able to support the development of Prism Health with these lottery bond dollars to increase access and quality of care for the LGBTQ+ community across Oregon,” said Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D – North Portland). “Cascade AIDS project has an incredible track record of serving this community and Prism Health is providing a much-needed service for LGBTQ+ people.”

The funds will be made available to CAP and Prism Health when the state issues the bonds at the end of the current biennium (early to mid-2019).

Download the full press release here: Cascade AIDS Project_Lottery Bond Press Release

CAP Welcomes New Board Members

CAP is pleased to announce the appointment of new members of its Board of Directors, as well as the full slate of officers for FY2018.

Joining the Board over the past fiscal year are Mikki Gillette, Jenn Klotz, Travis Marker, Dr. John Nusser, and Bil Spigner.

“Year after year, I am grateful that CAP is able to engage board members of the highest caliber to help us achieve our mission of supporting and empowering people living with or affected by HIV in our community and providing compassionate healthcare to the LBGTQ+ community,” said Tyler TerMeer, Executive Director. “We have a very strong leadership foundation in place and we couldn’t be more pleased to have these new members on board. Each of these individuals’ professional backgrounds and passionate commitment to our mission will bring insightful perspectives to our Board.”

Mikki Gillette is the Major Gifts Officer at Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, where she works with individual donors, oversees grants and assists with events. A playwright and journalist, her writing has focused on the transgender community and her experience as a trans woman.

Jenn Klotz is responsible for Genentech Hillsboro’s community relations, government relations and internal/external communication and serves as Chair of the Genentech Hillsboro Diversity team. In her 8 years at Genentech she has been involved with CAP as a leader of Genentech’s Portland AIDS Walk team which has surpassed 100 participants the past few years.

Travis Marker is new to the Portland area and is a Master Practitioner Consultant for North Highland Consulting where he leads the People and Change capability for Oregon, Washington and California. Travis’ twenty-year plus career in Talent Management includes a Master of Education Degree from The University of Oklahoma and given him the opportunity to present and speak at events and conferences across the Nation.

Dr. John Nusser became a doctor to care for people who might not get the care they deserve, due to stigma such as HIV. He is a family physician who teaches and sees patients at Peace Health’s residency in Vancouver, WA. For many years, he has enjoyed volunteering as the medical director of CAP’s testing site in Washington. He is faculty with the Mountain West AIDS Education Training Center, and has published on HIV education. He has also served on the board of Project Access NOW and the Free Clinic.

Bil Spigner is an 11-year veteran of NIKE who works on the North America Store Operations team as a Project Program Director and has spent the last 25 years managing Flagship Retail stores across the country. Bil recently relocated to Portland to work at Nike’s World Headquarters, and has joined the Military Network team, which works to continuously improve the lives and well-being of all former members of the armed forces and their families.

Leaving the board are Leo Bancroft, Robert Goman, and Warren Jimenez. We thank them for their dedication and service to our community.

The slate of board members for FY2017 is listed below:

New Officers:

  • Nancy Haigwood, President, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Elise Brickner-Schulz, Vice President, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP
  • Karol Collymore, Secretary, Metro
  • Edwin Kietzman, Treasurer, Fred Meyer Stores
  • Bill Patton, Member at Large, The Standard
  • Robert Lusk, MD, Past President, Providence Health & Services

Devastating and Discriminatory Actions Coming Out of Our Nation’s Capital

Friends,
The devastating and discriminatory actions coming out of our nation’s capital over the last 24 hours have been heartbreaking and difficult to digest. It’s hard to express the increased frustration, outrage, and sadness I am feeling today as I look at the impact that these decisions will have on our community, our friends, and our chosen families.
Today, the Trump-Pence administration launched a full-scale attack on our community when they announced, via a Tweet, that the United States would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the military.

Thousands of transgender people have served with honor and distinction in our military. They have risked their lives around the world to ensure our safety.
CAP and Prism Health condemn this announcement and we call upon the administration to reverse this repulsive and life-endangering action that not only undermines military readiness, but weakens our country and makes us less safe. We stand strong with our transgender service members and their families affected by this ban.
Today’s announcement comes as the latest attempt of the Trump-Pence administration to undo years of progress for the LGBTQ+ community and on the heels of another step backwards in our battle to preserve the Affordable Care Act for millions of Americans.

We are deeply concerned by the Senate’s continuing efforts to take away life-sustaining health care coverage and protections from millions of people who desperately need them. All of the iterations of this legislation threaten the health and well-being of people living with and affected by HIV. In a time when we should be working to end this epidemic, the administration’s actions are threatening to undo the work of decades of struggle.

Yesterday what passed was a Motion to Proceed on the healthcare vote. It was not a bill, but a motion for debate. This means there is still time to sway votes. This fight is not over.
These horrible attacks on what we hold most dear are meant to overwhelm us and to break us down. Instead they will focus us and strengthen the resolve of our resistance. Our voices must be heard across the country. We will not accept discrimination in our Military, or anywhere in our Country. We will not accept dropping health coverage from millions of Americans. We will keep fighting every day. CallEmailTweetShare. Together we can fight this; we can’t let up, because we will not move back.
Yours in solidarity,
Tyler TerMeer  |  Executive Director
Cascade AIDS Project | Prism Health

Remember Them With Action: Pulse Nightclub

A year ago today, the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando shook the LGBTQ+ community to its core and left us devastated, angry, and bewildered.  Each of us was affected by this tragic action in our own way.  Most of us read or watched the news of the horrifying events and thought about how it related to our lives.  Others, like our own William McKell, a Bilingual HIV Prevention Specialist at CAP, were more personally affected by the tragedy:

Where Pulse Nightclub was always a lively, enjoyable time for me, Latin Nights were especially so. I distinctly remember the first time I went to Latin Nights at Pulse Orlando and saw two men dancing salsa together in a crowd of people to “Lloraras” by Oscar de Leon. Their movements were so coordinated and in sync—to think about it still gives me chills to this day. The friends and memories I made at Pulse as a young college student would eventually help me realize my identities as a Latino and gay man.  To later discover that I had lost a friend and several acquaintances on that tragic night of June 2016 would strike fear into my core sense of self. Although I want to be able to move on, I cannot help but think about this as a brutal attack on both LGBTQ and Latino communities. We must not forget the importance of representing our culture in a way that honors the memories of those people who simply wanted to dance without fear or judgment. I cannot forget the names or faces of the people who lost their lives while dancing to merengue, bachata, and salsa. I am forever grateful to my friend Drew Leinonen for the life that he led by example, and hope to cherish his memory as I work to proudly represent Latinos wherever they might be. No one can stop the Pulse. ~ William

As we come together as a community to celebrate Pride, its important that we never forget our friends, lovers, sisters, and brothers whose lives were lost that terrible night.  I for one believe that the most profound way to honor their loss is through acts of service to our community. Last week, I had the honor of participating in the AIDS LifeCycle as a volunteer co-captain for the medical team supporting 2,200 riders as they traveled 545 miles down the coast of California. I will alway cherish the memory of working to support my community while being surrounded by the most incredibly vibrant, alive, and jubilant people from all walks of life.

I encourage you to find ways to honor those lives lost in Orlando through action in our own community.  CAP is joining a nationwide effort to honor the lives of the 49 victims. The focus of this effort is to take actions that create a safer environment for LGBTQ+ communities. Use the hashtag #HonorThemWithAction to highlight your own actions and to encourage others to act. Both the Q Center and Basic Rights Oregon have a number of events that you participate in including a blood drive and a community discussion on gun safety.

Please take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and then honor them with action, today and every day going forward.

Yours in peace and solidarity,

Tyler TerMeer, Executive Director