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World AIDS Day Food Drive



On December 1, the global community will observe World AIDS Day. The day provides an opportunity to remember those we have lost to AIDS, raise awareness, and also mark successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS. At APLA, one way that we succeed is by linking our clients to lifesaving care. Our APLA “client navigators” identify people with HIV/AIDS not in medical care, and then we act: Working with the client, we help him or her connect to a network of primary care providers to receive crucial medical and dental care, housing assistance, treatment education, and even in-home care when necessary.

But establishing those first links to care is only one element of our work: We follow up with each of our thousands of clients to ensure that they are able to remain in care once they’ve begun. As a result, APLA clients are able to stay healthy, reduce the level of HIV in their bodies, and stop other, related conditions before they become painful, distressing, and life-threatening.

In this issue of Optimist, you’ll read about how APLA will observe this December 1 through our World AIDS Day Food Drive. We are working closely with our media partners, NBC4 and Frontiers in LA, to organize a countywide food drive to raise awareness and secure donations of food and personal hygiene items for our lowest-income clients. The donations will supplement the food that APLA clients receive at our Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP) food pantries.

You’ll also read a captivating story about APLA client Sheila White. Sheila is one of the thousands of clients who would not be able to eat healthy, balanced meals without the help of APLA.

During the holiday season, we ask you to remember clients like Sheila who need these meals, and links to our other vital services, now more than ever. Some of our clients still find little family support to depend on during the holiday season -- because stigma and fear of the disease sadly remain rampant. Consider the APLA client who was asked by his own family to eat from separate and disposable plates because of baseless fear of “spreading his infection.”

So as you shop for your friends and loved ones this holiday season, please don’t forget your neighbors who rely on APLA during this time. Please
give a gift to APLA today. And thanks for standing with us!

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Craig E. Thompson
Executive Director
AIDS Project Los Angeles


World AIDS Day Food Drive

AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) is organizing a massive countywide food drive to secure donations of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items for people living with HIV/AIDS. The food drive will coincide with World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012. Donations collected at the food drive will supplement the food provided to clients who visit APLA’s Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP) food pantries
every week.

“NOLP is intended to be a supplementary program,” explains Tonya Hendricks, program manager of NOLP. “That is, we try to supplement the client’s current ability to purchase his or her own groceries. But more recently, and sadly, we have become the only source of food for so many we serve.”

That’s why, in partnership with KNBC-TV and Frontiers in L.A., APLA is holding a food drive from November 12 through December 1. In order to stock its clients’ shelves, APLA must also stock its own, and the agency increasingly relies on private funds to purchase food.

HIV/AIDS disproportionally affects low-income individuals and their families, making the APLA Food Drive so critical. Most of APLA’s 11,000 clients live on less than $10,000 a year. Donations from the food drive will provide nourishment for thousands of Angelenos who face HIV/AIDS and hunger. This food will also enable our clients to properly take their medications, avoid side-effects, and ultimately achieve the best possible state of health.

For a list of items requested for the food drive and a list of drop-off locations, visit

client profile_Sheila_resized

Sheila White

The Road to Recovery

The average adult has 32 teeth. When Sheila White first walked through the doors of APLA, she had eight. Sheila was HIV-positive, a long-time cocaine user, and she had been living on the streets for about 20 years. This combination of factors led to her severe dental problems. After serving a lengthy prison sentence, Sheila went to the Tarzana Treatment Center, where she was referred to APLA.

Sheila visited one of APLA’s full-service dental clinics, and APLA Dental Services was able to treat her dangerous oral infections, perform multiple dental procedures, and give her a brand new set of dentures. All of this was provided at no cost to Sheila, who was just starting to get her life in order after being incarcerated.

At this time, Sheila also started to visit one of APLA’s Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP) food pantries, which has been her main source of food for the past 10 years. Sheila visits the pantry once a week and says that NOLP is more than a food pantry; it has been an entire
lifestyle change.

NOLP offers nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations that teach Sheila how to stretch her dollar and eat well on a budget. Sheila smiles as she remembers a cooking demonstration where APLA volunteers made tofu enchiladas. “I don’t do tofu,” she laughs. “But they made tofu tasty.”

Sheila is one of the many clients who have been able to turn their lives around with the help of APLA’s direct care services. Visit to learn more about the full range of services that APLA provides.


‘Tis the Season for Giving


There’s still time to make a donation to APLA and get a 2012 tax deduction. By doing so, you’ll help send a little holiday cheer to those in Los Angeles who have nowhere else to turn.

The holidays can be very difficult for people with HIV/AIDS, and APLA will be there to serve them.
Please provide your support today.

Thank you!


A Conversation with Jackie Collins

If you’re looking for a fun holiday gift that will benefit an incredible cause… look no further! Jackie Collins will be offering a personal, one-on-one,
20-minute video chat to benefit APLA! Bidding occurs December 1-10, and the one-on-one chat will take place on Monday, January 7 at 3:00 PM PST. Be sure to visit for more details!

Jolly St. Knickers Run

Have you ever wanted to don your cutest red underwear and go on a brisk, three-mile run in Los Angeles? If so, here’s your chance! On Sunday, December 16, join your fellow Angelenos for the First Annual Los Angeles Jolly St. Knickers Run! You don’t have to be a runner to join us. You just have to be in the holiday spirit and want to do something crazy on a Sunday morning. Registration is only $25 and you’re invited to raise critical funds for people living with HIV/AIDS. Visit our Jolly St. Knickers Web site for more information.


Election Season Updates


Health care reform was a big winner in the November 6 general elections, and APLA’s Government Affairs Division now turns its focus to the on-going implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the federal and state levels. The Act mandates a major expansion of the Medicaid program and the establishment of health care exchanges (where individuals can purchase private coverage) in January of 2014. California is well ahead of most states in the country in implementing these programs: the state’s Low Income Health Programs are already enrolling patients who will then transition to Medicaid, and the California Health Benefits Exchange Board is well on its way to establishing the state’s exchange. The exchange will provide individual and small group coverage to some three million people. Both expansions radically alter the availability of health coverage in California to thousands of Californians living with HIV/AIDS who previously could access care and treatment only through Ryan White-funded programs. The state is also moving forward with a Coordinated Care Initiative, which seeks to better manage care for people who receive services both through Medicare and Medicaid.

Governor Jerry Brown’s Ballot Proposition 30 was another big winner on Nov. 6. The initiative provides critical tax revenues for the state to maintain a baseline of services. Without Proposition 30, the state would have implemented draconian cuts to education and health care, likely including both invaluable HIV/AIDS research and the state’s contribution to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. California voters have also elected a supermajority of Democrats to both the State Senate and Assembly, substantially improving the legislature’s ability to pass budgets, ensuring adequate funding for safety-net programs, and likely ending years of legislative gridlock in Sacramento.

photo of month resized nov12

Timothy Brown at HIV Matters, APLA’s quarterly town hall forum that explores the latest advances in HIV/AIDS treatment, care, biomedical prevention, and cure research. Brown, also known as “The Berlin Patient,” is the only known person worldwide to have been effectively cured of HIV.

Photo: Kristen Hellwig

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APLA InSight Tours »
Various Dates

APLA Food Drive »
December 1

TEAM TO END AIDS runs the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship »
December 2

10th Annual Hepatitis C Summit »
December 7

Jolly St. Knickers Run »
December 16


"If a person has no food, no shelter, no place to live, none of the basic needs, regardless of the information you might have, the bottom line, the medications [for HIV/AIDS] will not help.”

- Octavio Vallejo, Treatment Educator at AIDS Project Los Angeles, talks to Denise Dador from ABC7 Eyewitness News about the significance of the comprehensive services that APLA provides.

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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.

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