AOC and AHF to join forces in North Texas

A new affiliation between AIDS Outreach Center (AOC) and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) seeks to improve the delivery of prevention and lifesaving HIV/AIDS care and services in eight North Texas counties.

AOC and AHF each have more than 30 years of experience. By coming together, they are expanding their capacity to provide services to those affected by HIV/AIDS, in addition to providing HIV prevention and testing services.

The two organizations, have been co-locating services at some Fort Worth-area locations since 2012, and are now joining together in a more formal manner.

“AOC and AHF each have long and respected histories of service to the community and similar philosophies and missions. Taking stock, we decided it would in the best interest of the clients and communities we serve, as well as both organizations to form a stronger, more formal affiliation,” said Shannon Hilgart, Executive Director of AIDS Service Center, in a news release

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“To be clear, AIDS Outreach Center will remain an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization and keep its identity—well-deserved after our 30 years of service,” Hilgart said in the release. But now, we will be able to address needs in our communities in North Texas that we would never have been able to without this partnership. We are honored to work with AHF in this exciting new collaboration.”

Each year, AOC staff and volunteers provide services to over 1,600 people living with HIV/AIDS, and education to over 3,000 people in eight North Texas counties.

Most AOC services are free and include: housing and insurance assistance, case management, mental health and substance abuse services, a dental clinic, a food bank, transportation services, support groups, HIV and syphilis testing, testing for other STIs, individual risk reduction counseling and linkage to care services.

Both organizations serve HIV-positive clients with a wide variety of free or low-cost services.

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“Both AHF and AOC share a common mission to stop the spread of HIV and improve the lives of all people living with HIV/AIDS and other disenfranchised and underserved populations,” said Bret Camp, Texas Regional Director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in the release. “This affiliation allows both organizations to continue to leverage our respective strengths to better serve the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout North Texas.”

AHF is a global organization that provides medicine and advocacy to more than 817,000 people across 38 countries. It is also the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the U.S.

The release provided a look at HIV/AIDS in Fort Worth and North Texas:

— As of 2016, 5,842 individuals were living with HIV in Tarrant and the surrounding seven counties.

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— In 2016, the Fort Worth HSDA had the fourth highest number of new diagnoses in Texas with 310 new cases identified that year.

— Only 73 percent of total people living with HIV retained in medical care in 2016 compared to approximately 90 percent of AOC clients.

“AHF recognizes the importance of supporting patients and clients with local grassroots community-based services that are crucial to ensuring better health care outcomes,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, in the release. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the North Texas area which AOC serves eight counties that include both urban and rural populations as well as poor, minority as well as some disenfranchised populations.

“With this formal affiliation with AIDS Outreach Center and under Shannon Hilgart’s ongoing leadership, we hope to better serve those in need in the region and use this partnership as a model in other regions,” Weinstein said in the release.