CAP Reaffirms Commitment To Equity By Creating New Equity Outreach Coordinator Position

CAP is proud to announce that it has created a new position of Equity Outreach Coordinator to address barriers faced by refugees, people of color, people living in rural areas, and others in obtaining the housing resources available for people living with HIV. In addition to direct outreach to high barrier communities, this position will also help inform CAP’s efforts to design programs for improved equity outcomes across the community. The Equity Outreach Coordinator position will report directly to CAP’s Director of Housing & Support Services.

Tyler TerMeer, Executive Director

“This important new position will work to address the very real disparities faced by some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Executive Director Tyler TerMeer, “The data we have collect over the past year supports our understanding of the barriers confronting people of color attempting to access housing and other services which often result in longer wait times and lower program participation. There are a lot of factors contributing to this inequity, including higher rates of criminal conviction and eviction history that makes it harder for people in communities of color to access housing. All of which means that CAP needs to work hard to overcome these barriers and achieve parity with white clients.”

“We know that HIV-related stigma is so high in some communities that significant numbers of people who know they are positive are going without treatment and services” said Angie Harbin, CAP’s Director of Housing & Support Services, “We also know that a lot of people, for a variety of reasons, face obstacles to accessing CAP’s services through our existing processes. And, finally, our numbers tell us that we need to be doing more to address the disparities in outcomes among certain groups of people. This position is intended to address these issues.”

The position will be funded with dollars from CAP’s federal Ryan White Housing contract that is anticipated to last a minimum of 5 years.

Download the full press release here: Equity Coordinator Press Release

March 20th Marks National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 20th is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Unfortunately, new HIV infection rates having been increasing in recent years among American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Yet, rates have been decreasing during this time-period for white communities.  Our Native populations are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic – a fact that is rarely highlighted even by HIV/AIDS-focused organizations. Part of the problem is the “other” designation on medical and epidemiological intake forms…

“Other” is oft the catchall phrase used to identify American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.  The generic label disassociates the stories, struggles, and resilience of these communities.  Behind the “other” are people, families, and rich culture and traditions.  American Indian and Alaska Native communities deserve the right, just like every other community, to be named.

Today on National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we urge everyone to remove the “other” label intake forms, reports, and all other means of demographic grouping. Those of Native populations, we welcome your distinct contextualized voice on the effect of HIV/AIDS in your life. To all others, reach out to your Native friends, neighbors, and colleagues with compassion and empathy – or listen to Native HIV stories and PSAs. HIV/AIDS is an enemy all individuals can rally against.

FamilyCare Awards CAP $80,000 To Support Prism Health

CAP has been awarded $80,000 from FamilyCare Health to support the opening of Prism Health, an LGBTQ+ Primary Care Health Center.

“FamilyCare Health has been a long-term partner of CAP, and we are delighted that they have made such a significant statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community by investing in Prism Health,” said CAP’s Executive Director, Tyler TerMeer. “This $80,000 investment allows CAP to complete the health center renovations and open in spring of 2017.”

“FamilyCare Health is proud to support the new Prism Health center, which will increase access and quality of care for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Jeff Heatherington, FamilyCare Health’s President and CEO. “Cascade AIDS project has an incredible track record of serving this community and the new center is certain to be an invaluable asset to the tri-county area.”

Read the full press release here: FamilyCare Grant Press Release

This has never been about bathrooms.

This has never been about bathrooms. It wasn’t about drinking fountains, either. It’s about keeping Trans people out of public spaces. Trans people have existed since the beginning of time. We have been using public accommodations alongside Cisgender people for as long as our society has been developed. There is no known incidence of a Trans person assaulting someone in a bathroom. This is not a safety issue for cisgender women in bathrooms. That is a mirage.

This is really about shame. Our community’s continued fight to move out of the dark, and society’s pressure to keep us shadowed. Our punishment for the audacity we are currently exhibiting is increased scrutiny. The reaction to our demands to be visible in public has been a multitude of legislative attempts to bar us access from accommodations. If we can be kept from being in public spaces, we will be kept tightly wound by our shame.

The insidious nature of shame is that when bestowed upon us from the outside world it infiltrates our being. It changes the way we see ourselves. We begin to see ourselves as others see us. We become our own oppressors. Over time, shame takes happy, healthy and joyful Trans youth, and makes them loathe themselves.

What we learned from Injustice at Every Turn, a large volume study of Trans people published by The Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is that Trans youth are at extreme risk in schools. The study concluded that those who expressed a trans identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%). Harassment so severe, that 1/6th of those students in America chose to drop out, rather than stay in school. Similar data figures came from the U.S. Transgender Survey in 2015. These are all experiences that teach us shame.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moments where events change the course of our lives. I grew up in Eastern Oregon, and hit public school in the early 1990’s. I began being bullied in 1st grade. I learned, as we do often do, to fight back, as teachers seemed to be oblivious. I was lucky to be taken out of public school in 2nd grade, and did not return until high school— a detail that likely allowed me to survive. My first year back in public school was much worse than my days in 1st grade. I was clearly different by this time. I was much closer to being the me that I am now. Questions became accusation, and accusation became physical assault. I lasted a year, and dropped out.

Looking backward, I can say with certainty that leaving high school was one of the defining moments that changed the course of the rest of my life. I started the process to medically transition not long after. The early 2000’s were dark times for Trans folks in many ways. Like most of the Trans women who transitioned at early ages back then, I found myself houseless and engaging in survival sex work by age 17. It took me almost a decade to return to formal education of any kind.

I am currently finishing my Bachelor ’s degree in social science at Portland State University, and I am working as a CareLink Navigator here at CAP. I am smart, capable, engaging and have fire within me to create change – and, I am about to turn 31. Most of my peers finished undergrad 8 years ago, have a master’s degree and are in management positions. I am still in an entry level position; still trying to get caught up to the rest of the world. Unlearning the mirroring we receive when we are young is some of the very hardest work. These social experiences had a stunting effect on my life. An effect great enough that I am still doing work to undo it, a very long time later.

During the time that I was in school, no protections existed in Oregon for Trans people. This was long before the legislation of 2008 that made it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity, and the sweeping guidelines from Oregon’s Department of Education last year. Oregon has taken a stand when it comes to Trans youth and adults in schools and public accommodations. Unfortunately, most states have not and are still forbidding Trans folks from using the correct bathroom. Most Trans youth live in states where they are being sent the messages that I was. That there is something wrong with us, and we need to make ourselves scarce.

These experiences have consequences for the rest of our lives. My personal progress has cost a great deal, financially, physically and emotionally. While we cannot forcibly change the way people view us, we can change laws, add protections, and continue the momentum into light. My desire is that even youth in rural, southern places who are Trans, will eventually have the ability to complete school, and have the same access their cisgender contemporaries do.

For that to happen, all of us need to have investment into this crisis. Trans people need cisgender people to care that we are being barred access to education and accommodations as much we do. This is about you fighting with us to bring back regulations protecting Trans people under Title IX. This is about you fighting with us to change people’s perceptions of Trans people. It’s about hiring us to work in your agencies and companies, inviting us to your gatherings and to be part of your communities. It’s about teaching your children to accept and stand up for their Trans classmates.

We are not here to hurt you, and we never have been. We just need to pee, attend school in a safe environment, and go about our lives.  As we approach another supreme court ruling on Trans youth in schools, I encourage you to google Gavin Grimm, and become aware of the ebb and flow of federal regulations around this issue. Talk to your children. Talk to your family members in other states. We need you.

#standwithgavin

Devon Davis
Cascade AIDS Project 
CareLink Navigator

Prism Health Logo Unveiled!

CAP is thrilled to unveil the new logo for Prism Health, our LGBTQ+ primary care center opening in Spring of 2017!

Located at 2236 SE Belmont Street in Portland, Prism Health will offer a safe, affirming, and non-judgmental space where all members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community can obtain the compassionate and culturally effective health care they need and deserve.

In addition to comprehensive primary care, it is anticipated that the center will offer specialized services for the transgender community, HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing, mental health care, and specialty pharmacy services. With this health center, CAP is committed to removing barriers, improving access, and most importantly providing quality health care for all LGBTQ+ patients in the Portland metro region.

Patients do not have to be LGBTQ+ to receive care, but services will focus on addressing the sensitive issues of sexual minorities and their families and friends.

To sign up for more information about Prism Health visit: www.prismhealth.org

A Message of Love to Our Community

Dear CAP Family,
Understanding and acceptance of our identity is a lifelong journey. Over the course of my journey with the virus, I have met some of the most life-changing and inspiring individuals, many of whom don’t even realize the impact they are having on those around them.
My work in HIV has taken my life to new heights and it is the energy and passion that I draw from the people I have met along this path that keeps me going each and every day. Sadly, for as far as we have come in this epidemic, I have lost countless friends and clients … many of whom I consider my kids … my family.
Today, I’m remembering the life and energy of one of my kids – Geneva. She would have been 30 years old this week. It’s hard to understand her loss from this world, but what I do know is that those of us who had the honor of knowing her are forever better for it!

I could tell you so many amazing stories about Geneva, each of which would bring the biggest smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Born with HIV, she was a young woman of small stature with a thick Brooklyn accent who lived 27 years with her disease and never for a minute stopped fighting. I loved how she could light up any room with her smile and laughter, welcomed people into her life with an open heart and wouldn’t pause to question systems when they were unjust or inequitable. I think what I admired the most about Geneva, is that even on her hardest days she found the strength to teach us all what it truly means to be a compassionate and loving advocate.

I often think about what Geneva would be saying right now in our current political environment. Today, I imagine that my phone would ring and as I answered from thousands of miles away, I’d hear her immediately launch into one of her infamous speeches. It would have started with some comment about how she just cannot grasp, how we’ve arrived in a time and place where we have people in positions of power that on one hand have a history of being anti-LGBTQ+, but on the other hand are celebrating a holiday whose mascot is a man with fairy wings in small tight underwear shooting arrows of love.

I’d laugh until tears rolled down my face, then as always she’d say something so profound and wise beyond her years. Today, it would be a reminder to send out a message of love to our community.

Love for those we have lost, love for those living with and affected by HIV, and for all marginalized communities whose rights, access to healthcare, safety, and ability to make choices for their own bodies are being challenged by decisions to be made over the years to come.

I know that we are entering a time of uncertainty, that we all have many unanswered questions, and that sitting in a place of unknown vulnerability can be scary and overwhelming. I also know that CAP and Prism Health will be here to provide support and love for all of those communities in the years ahead.
Love always,

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

A Message From CAP’s Executive Director                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Understanding and acceptance of our identity is a lifelong journey, one of  which I admit I struggled with for many years. Today, as we observe the 17th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I stand a confident and proud Black, openly HIV positive man who daily urges the community to wake up to the harsh reality of the epidemic among us. Higher risk of HIV infection among Black communities does not stem from higher levels of risk behavior. Rather, our disproportionate risk of HIV can be traced to poorer access to health services and coverage, racism, transphobia, homophobia and a higher prevalence of sexually transmitted infection.
It is alarming that Black people in the U.S. continue to be the most at risk racial or ethnic group in the country, with one in 20 men and one in 48 women facing an HIV diagnosis within their lifetime. Projecting that half of all Black gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime is just one of the latest examples of how the public health community and our larger social, political, and economic structures continue to fail the most vulnerable communities in our society.

For all of us in the HIV community this means that now more than ever, when civil rights, the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and a woman’s rights to make choices for their own body are being challenged, we have a responsibility to make sure that we do everything we can to advocate for the importance of our safety net programs and ensure that information is available about how to access them.

At CAP, that means all of us working together to correct social injustices and strengthen the often-broken systems throughout the communities we serve. Moving forward, CAP will be even more intentional about this focus, I have made an organizational commitment and investment into integrating the Black Lives Matter movement at our staff level. This does not mean that other lives (e.g, Latino, Asian, White, etc.) don’t matter. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. However, at this moment in time, police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, and major disparities within public health have converged to create a perfect storm of inequality for Black people that we must begin to address differently than we have in the past.

As our work continues, CAP will be re-imagining our approaches, messaging, everyday work, functions, policies and activities, including core trainings for all staff on power and privilege in healthcare and historical trauma and stigma within Black communities. In the months ahead, CAP will be hiring external consultants to bring expertise from outside of the organization with the intent of improving affirming practices across the organization, both for internal policies and work culture as well as external service work. The culmination of this work will be a new strategic plan that will better allow CAP to monitor organizational benchmarks around our program and service outcomes and engagement of Black communities.

Bottom line – Given everything we know about HIV and how to prevent it after more than 30 years of fighting the disease, it’s just unacceptable that our community continues to become infected at such high rates. We must respond to this health crisis with the urgency it warrants.
Sincerely,

tyler signature
Tyler TerMeer
Executive Director

CAP To Expand HIV Services In Washington State

CAP is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the Washington State Department of Health to provide HIV-related services for Clark and Skamania counties starting January 1, 2017.

Under this contract award, CAP will provide both case management and care support services for persons living with HIV and prevention services including access to HIV testing, condoms, and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for persons at high risk for HIV. These efforts and services align with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the End AIDS Washington Initiative’s primary goal to reduce new HIV infections in Washington State by 50% by 2020.

“We are thrilled to be selected by the Washington Department of Health to provide cohesive prevention and care services to Clark and Skamania counties,” said CAP’s Executive Director, Tyler TerMeer. “We understand that ending the HIV epidemic means addressing a full range of barriers to prevention and treatment. This contract allows us to expand our successful care support service model to Washington and builds upon our existing six-year track record of providing innovative and effect prevention services in the Vancouver area to allow us to serve more people.”

With respect to medical case management and care support services, CAP anticipates serving approximately 90% of persons living with HIV in these counties and will focus services on individuals with multiple barriers to medical engagement and medication adherence including people facing poverty, homelessness, housing instability, mental illness, and substance abuse. CAP’s expanded prevention services will go beyond HIV testing to ensure that there is an open dialogue with clients to assess risk and to link them to services and protocols which promote the best health outcomes for their particular

Dr. John Nusser joins CAP Board of Directors
Dr. John Nusser joins CAP Board of Directors

needs.

To better serve Washington state clients, CAP is pleased to welcome Dr. John Nusser, a Vancouver Washington-based family medicine doctor with a significant HIV practice to its Board of Directors. Dr. Nusser received his medical degree from University of Washington School of Medicine and is affiliated with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

CAP is eager to bring a version of its model of culturally affirming, trauma-informed and unified prevention and care services to SW Washington.

Kaiser Permanente and Miller Charitable Fund Support Prism Health

CAP is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $15,000 from the Kaiser Permanente and $24,500 from the Miller Charitable Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation to support the opening of CAP’s LGBTQ+ Primary Care Health Center: Prism Health.

“We are thrilled to receive this support from both Kaiser Permanente and the Miller Charitable Fund in support of Prism Health,” said CAP’s Executive Director, Tyler TerMeer. “Both grants will help offset renovation costs and ultimately will enable us to open on time and on budget.”

Prism Health, an LGBTQ+ Primary Care Health Center, slated to open in early 2017 and conveniently located at 2236 SE Belmont Street in Portland, Oregon, will offer a safe, affirming, and non-judgmental space where all members of the LGBTQ+ community can obtain the compassionate and culturally effective health care they need and deserve. In addition to comprehensive primary care, it is anticipated that the LGBTQ+ Primary Care Health Center will offer specialized services for the transgender community, HIV and sexually transmitted disease testing, mental health counseling, and integrated pharmacy services.

Download the full press release here: kaiser-and-miller-press-release

CAP Announces New Mission & Name For LGBTQ+ Health Center

Today, December 1st, marks the 29th anniversary of World AIDS Day – a time for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, to show their support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have lost their lives in the epidemic. In commemoration of World AIDS Day, CAP announced that it has adopted a new mission statement to enable the agency to better serve its existing clients and expand services to provide direct medical services to the broader LGBTQ+ community through the creation of a new LGBTQ+ Primary Care Center slated to open in early 2017.

CAP’s new mission:

We support and empower all people with or affected by HIV, reduce stigma, and provide the LGBTQ+ community with compassionate healthcare

“Our new mission statement reflects both our 32-year history of fighting the HIV epidemic as well as our move to providing culturally relevant health care to the broader LGBTQ+ community through our new health center,” said CAP Executive Director Tyler TerMeer. “I am also thrilled to announce the name of the health center: Prism Health. The name is a nod to the rich history of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement and an evocation of the power of science to be used in the service of the community.”prism

“CAP will always be here to work with and support people affected by HIV, but it was also time to look towards the future—which is providing culturally affirming health care to the LGBTQ community,” said CAP Board Chair, Robert Goman. “With a growing LGBTQ population, we need to take action now to ensure that their health needs are met.”

Prism Health, a primary care health center, an integral part of CAP’s expanding mission to serve the broader LGBTQ+ community and will help remove barriers and improve access to health care for all LGBTQ+ individuals. More information can be found at www.cascadeaids.org.