Cascade AIDS Project Awarded $20,000 For LGBTQ+ Mental Health Program

Cascade AIDS Project is proud to announce that it has been awarded $20,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation to start up an LGBTQ+ Family Mental Health Program.

The program will establish a Family Mental Health Program for LGBTQ+ individuals and families at Oregon’s first LGBTQ+ primary health care clinic, Prism Health. The program addresses the comprehensive set of mental health needs faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and aims to bring on a mental health specialist with significant experience with the LGBTQ+ community.

Photo by: Jason Bing

In Oregon, LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. LGB have nearly twice the rate of mental distress and more than double the rate of suicide ideation relative to heterosexuals. Transgender adults have 25 times the rate of suicide ideation as non-LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ youth are five times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual youth. Caitlin Wells, CAP’s Director of Healthcare Operations, notes this program will help amend those disparities.

Prism Health opened its doors for primary care in May 2017 and is now ready to utilize its six on-site mental health suites. Starting a mental health program has always been part of Prism’s plan to deliver comprehensive culturally affirming LGBTQ+ healthcare in Portland and Southwest Washington.

The LGBTQ+ Family Mental Health Program will be fully operational by the end of 2018.

For the full press release: LGBTQ+ Family Mental Health Program

Cascade AIDS Project Awarded $100,000 For HIV Prevention Navigation

Cascade AIDS Project is proud to announce that it has been awarded $100,000 from Gilead Sciences, Inc. to fund HIV prevention navigation and STI testing work.

The program addresses the comprehensive set of projects and activities aimed at reducing cases of HIV and STI cases across the Portland, Oregon metropolitan region. Specifically, the program is comprised of easily accessible HIV/STI testing clinics, connection to treatment and support services for those testing positive, community education both for those testing positive to prevent further spread of infections and prevention education for the wider community, and one on one health education session for high-risk individuals focused on personalized prevention strategies.

“A key component of the HIV Prevention Navigation program is testing – which is a critical way to reduce new cases of HIV and limit spread of the epidemic. There is also a strong focus on helping individuals navigate the complicated systems and processes so they, and their partners, can remain in good health,” said Caitlin Wells, CAP’s Director of Healthcare Operations. “Our hope and expectation is that this program will allow us to keep up our work in the community connecting high-risk individuals to low-barrier testing programs and additional resources to guarantee a population that is thriving.”

The grant will fund CAP’s HIV prevention navigation work for one year. Download the full press release here: HIV Prevention Navigation.

Meyer Memorial Trusts awards Cascade AIDS Project two-year grant to explore Prism Health as a Federally Qualified Health Center


CAP is proud to announce that it has been awarded $113,000 from Meyer Memorial Trust to assess and pursue Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status for Prism Health. The two-year grant will allow the agency to bring on a consultant to help CAP and Prism leadership explore what it takes to become an FQHC, then make the requisite improvements to systems and processes, and ultimately complete the involved application process.

Becoming an FQHC allows Prism Health to reach a wider patient population, with greater barriers to accessing care – such as very low income, certain racial/ethnic identities, and older age. Ultimately, Prism Health aims to improve health outcomes among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, plus all other gender and sexual minorities (LGBTQ+) across Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties. Becoming an FQHC makes sure we reach the LGBTQ+ population equitably and responsibly.

“Prism Health is honored to receive this grant from Meyer Memorial Trust. Our work over the next two years around becoming an FQHC is a critical component in improved LGBTQ+ health and reducing some of the major health disparities currently experienced by the population, especially around sexual and mental health,” says Peter Parisot, Deputy Director of CAP.

The program kicks off in January 2018 and will include a community health assessment, consultation, and a strategic action plan for establishing FQHC status.

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. NOTE: the end date for this project is 12/31/17.

You can find more information at 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