AIDS Project Los Angeles - Optimist
Get Involved Send This to a Friend View Online Donate
MARCH 2013
From the Executive Director  +  What's New  +  Profile
Giving  +  Take Action  +  Photo of the Month  +  The Last Word
From the Executive Director
Craig E. Thompson


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This month, APLA observed National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a time that organizers urge women to both “share knowledge” and “take action.” On this day, APLA encouraged its women clients, volunteers, and supporters (along with their friends and families) to educate themselves about the disease, understand their risk of infection, and get tested at one of APLA’s free HIV testing sites — where every HIV-positive test comes with compassionate, expert counseling and an immediate link to life-sustaining, no-cost medical care.

In 2010, nationwide, women accounted for one in five of all new HIV infections. That’s why, for years, the APLA Women’s Committee has been providing a safe, nurturing environment for women living with HIV/AIDS and their peers.

The committee offers quarterly educational and social events that allow women to socialize with other women living with HIV to reduce isolation and stigma; to learn about their disease; to discover ways to protect themselves and their partners; and to stay healthy. Recently, we began to offer a new support group for women called “Women First.” You can learn more about the group in the “What’s New” section below.

As well, March marked National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It’s a national observance that encourages Native peoples nationwide (who have the third-highest rates of HIV infection, behind only African Americans and Latinos) to learn about HIV/AIDS, to promote HIV testing, and to get involved in HIV prevention. The Red Circle Project at APLA is the only HIV prevention program in L.A. County that specifically provides services to the Native American / Alaska Native Community. The program offers culturally relevant HIV/AIDS resources, referrals, and group support, in addition to various forms of outreach at local powwows and cultural events.

And we are pleased to announce another expansion of our work in South Los Angeles. APLA now provides free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at the APLA Health & Wellness Center in Baldwin Hills. The free STD testing and treatment will complement free HIV testing that APLA has offered at the site since 2010. In future issues, you’ll learn more about APLA’s new STD testing and treatment programs and how they’re making a difference in heavily impacted communities. For more information on any of our services, visit

Craig E. Thompson

Craig E. Thompson
Executive Director
AIDS Project Los Angeles

What's New

Women First

Luz Ayon


Every Friday, a group of women meets at APLA for Women First, a support group for women living with HIV. The women travel from all over Los Angeles County, some of them spending up to two hours on public transportation just to be able to attend the group. The group provides women with a safe, supportive space to talk about a variety of issues. Frequent topics of conversation include women's health, children, and relationships.

Luz Ayon, one of the co-facilitators of the group, says that the group has been great to work with. The women have been very open, and they are happy to have a group like this at APLA, since it is one of the few programs of its kind in Los Angeles.

“It’s a great outlet for them and a good learning experience for me,” Luz says. “I’ve learned how much strength women have and how resourceful they are. That’s pretty amazing, actually.”

Women First is one of many programs that APLA provides to improve both the health and quality of life of Angelenos living with HIV. Learn more.


Finding Strength



Margaret has never lived what you would call an easy life. She was a gang member at the age of 13, a single mother at the age of 18, and 10 years later, she gave birth to a daughter who was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. Before Margaret’s daughter was born, Margaret had no idea she was living with AIDS. After she found out, she had to learn how to take care of herself while dealing with her daughter’s illness. It was at this point that she was introduced to an APLA case manager, Christine.

With Christine’s help, Margaret was able to access free groceries at APLA’s Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries, in-home care from Home Health Services, mental health support from Counseling Services, and more. Christine even came to Margaret’s home to drop off a Christmas tree and presents for her daughter. These were luxuries that Margaret, who was on public assistance at the time, would never have been able to afford.

Margaret’s daughter spent her first birthday in the hospital, and passed away shortly after. Margaret started doing drugs to cope with her loss, but was able to find support groups at APLA that helped her confront the issues behind her substance use.

“If I didn’t have APLA, I don’t know where I would be,” Margaret says. “In prison, on drugs, my son would have been in the system.”

Margaret’s son is 34 now, and he has given her seven grandchildren. It is hard for her to find the words to describe how grateful she is. “If it wasn’t for APLA pushing me through all of this, and now I’m able to see all of this... It’s a blessing.”


JUST ADDED! Alex Newell, who plays “Unique” on Glee, will be performing at The 29th Annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.)

S.T.A.G.E.Tickets are selling fast for this year’s event, “Broadway, My Way” on April 6! The cast is filled with stars of screen and stage, including: Andrew Rannells (Book of Mormon, The New Normal, Girls), Alex Newell (Glee), Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones, Tyne Daly, Kimberley Locke, Patrick Cassidy, Bruce Vilanch, and many more. Tickets are on sale now at

InSight APLA Luncheon

Do you want to learn more about the programs and services that APLA provides? If so, join us at our InSight APLA Luncheon on Thursday, May 9 at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood. This luncheon is free to all attendees and will provide you with a great opportunity to hear first-hand from some of the clients whose lives have been saved and enhanced by APLA.

We’re also looking for people to serve as table captains for the luncheon. Visit our InSight Web page to join us or learn more about becoming a table captain.

TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) Summer and Fall Training Programs

T2Have you been wanting to participate in a triathlon or other endurance event but have never quite gone through with it? Whether you’re a beginner and can barely run around the block or if you’ve run a marathon in the past, T2 will train you to complete an endurance event. And, we’ll help you raise critical funds to serve the thousands of people who rely on APLA to sustain healthy and productive lives. We’re excited to be participating in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, Austin 70.3 Half Ironman, and XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. Training begins in May and July. Register and learn more at

You can also learn more about T2 at our upcoming “T2 Movie Night” on April 19 where we will be screening the inspirational film “Spirit of the Marathon.” RSVP here!

Concrete Hero

Concrete HeroThe second annual Concrete Hero, the 2013 Urban Obstacle Challenge, will be held at Los Angeles State Historic Park and features several new LA-themed obstacles and an extended 5-mile route through the streets of downtown. Funds raised through Concrete Hero, which takes place on Sunday, July 14, benefit APLA.

To register, donate, or receive more information on Concrete Hero, visit or call 323.462.HERO (4376).

SAVE THE DATE: Art Project Los Angeles

We are thrilled to be hosting the 4th annual Art Project Los Angeles, taking place June 28-30 at Bonhams. The event offers over 200 priceless art pieces up for auction. For information, to purchase tickets, or to donate an item, please visit or call 310.996.1188.

Take Action

AIDS Watch 2013

In February, APLA Government Affairs staff, accompanied by two APLA clients, traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in AIDS Watch 2013. Over the course of two meeting-filled days, the APLA contingent met with representatives from the offices of 15 different members of the Southern California congressional delegation — including four members of Congress — as well as the staff for both of California’s U.S. senators. AIDS Watch is an annual lobbying event that gives people living with HIV/AIDS from across the country the opportunity to tell members of congress and their staff how federal funding for HIV/AIDS — through the Ryan White Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), etc. — impacts their health and their lives.

Members of Congress and their staff asked insightful questions of APLA’s clients, and it was clear from the conversations that California’s representatives in Congress share APLA’s concern for continued funding for programs serving people living with HIV/AIDS. However, these elected officials also face a challenging partisan climate in Washington, DC. Case in point: AIDS Watch occurred just before the March 1 deadline on sequestration — the congressional plan for mandatory spending cuts. While many understood that sequestration will be detrimental to programs serving people living with HIV/AIDS and other public health programs, no one could quite find any way out of it.

AIDS Watch provided the opportunity for APLA clients to advocate strongly for continued full funding of the Ryan White Program, full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and promotion of policies that favor science over politics. It also allowed clients to actively engage in the democratic process, and for APLA to continue to be a vocal advocate on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS across Los Angeles County, and Southern California.

Keep pace with APLA’s efforts to ensure access to programs for people living with HIV/AIDS in this critical transition under healthcare reform here in California and nationwide — and don’t miss future opportunities to share your opinions with legislators — by joining APLA’s “In the Loop” online advocacy network.

Photo of the Month Photo of the Month

APLA Government Affairs, along with APLA clients Dwayne and Lisa, in Washington, D.C. for AIDS Watch 2013. For more, see the preceding “Take Action” section, and visit the APLA Facebook page for more photos from the trip.

APLA Events The Last Word

HIV Matters: CROI 2013 »
April 3

Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) »
April 6

HIV Care Conference »
April 15

InSight APLA Luncheon »
May 9

Concrete Hero – Ultimate Urban Obstacle Challenge »
July 14

See All Events

“When I first found out about my HIV-status, I wanted to scream at the world, ‘know your status,’ because then people can make educated and informed decisions about circumstances they might find themselves in.”

- HIV-positive Olympian Ji Wallace, in an interview with Positive Frontiers about his decision to join TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) and raise critical funds for APLA. Ji and more than 100 other participants who ran the ASICS LA Marathon with T2 collectively raised over $170,000 for APLA.

Copyright © 2013 | AIDS Project Los Angeles
611 South Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Questions? Comments? Contact Us. | Donate | Take Action | Visit Your Activity Center
Update Your Profile | Request Password | Unsubscribe

AIDS Project Los Angeles is dedicated to: improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease; reducing the incidence of HIV infection; and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software