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New Ways to Get Involved



Welcome to a new look for your online version of Optimist – your exclusive source for information on everything APLA, from our crucial community work to our signature special events. We debut this new layout to match the look and feel of APLA’s new Web presence. More on that in a moment, but first:

This coming Sunday, October 14, an estimated crowd of 30,000 will take to the streets of West Hollywood and Los Angeles for the 28th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles. The event, benefiting APLA and more than 20 other AIDS service organizations, is the largest private source of funding for our HIV/AIDS care, prevention, and advocacy work – securing a hopeful future for the many thousands affected by the disease across the county. I hope you have registered, raised funds, and plan to walk – but if not, there’s still time. You can sign up to walk with us, ask family and friends to sponsor you, support Team APLA (comprised of APLA volunteers and staff), volunteer, or even amp up the pace with our very own TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) program “fun run,” which will lead the crowd and end with a high-spirited after party.

Remember: APLA now serves 11,000 clients – more than ever – who depend on the funds raised from AIDS Walk Los Angeles for programs that sustain lives and hope.

There’s another way to get involved, too: You’re invited to learn more about our work at an upcoming agency tour. I’d love the opportunity to meet you and introduce you to some of my colleagues and a few of our clients – people whose lives may have been very different if not for your generous support. View tour dates and RSVP at

And finally, about that “new Web presence.” Take a moment to click through to, and you’ll see something very different: Our remodeled Web site, launched just this week, which offers an entirely new way to learn about our work – and a first-ever APLA Activity Center, allowing you to manage your online giving and subscriptions more quickly and easily than ever before. We hope that you’ll take a few moments to look it over and let us know what you think!

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

craig thompson signature dd

Craig E. Thompson
Executive Director
AIDS Project Los Angeles


Get Fit, Save Lives


Kevin and teammates celebrate a 23-mile run

TEAM TO END AIDS (T2), the largest charity involved in last year’s Honda LA Marathon, is back with a brand new training season!

On October 20, a new group of T2 participants will embark on the experience of a lifetime as they begin training for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon (event date: January 20, 2013) or the Honda LA Marathon (event date: March 17, 2013). All fitness levels are welcome – many participants are complete beginners when they sign up!

What drives T2 participants to take on this challenge? Simply put: The desire to save lives and the drive to make a difference in the lives of APLA’s 11,000 clients who are affected by the disease.

According to T2 participant Jennifer Baughman, “Training for a marathon changed my life in such a positive way. If you live in the L.A. area, I encourage you to check out TEAM TO END AIDS!”

Baughman ran her first marathon with APLA in 2008, and has raised over $20,000 for the organization since.

While training to cross the finish line, T2 participants will find themselves surrounded by experienced coaches, dedicated staff, and supportive teammates. Training takes place in a group setting, and participants will receive individualized coaching and race-day support as well. Additionally, fundraising specialists will be there every step of the way to help each participant raise funds for the fight to end AIDS.

For more information and to join our team of dedicated athletes, visit


Writing Heals

John Boucher

John Boucher

In 2005, APLA client John Boucher discovered his voice.

It was a voice that would help him heal his wounds after a heartbreaking loss. And it was through this voice that his partner, Rex, would be able to live on in John’s memory, even after Rex’s AIDS-related death.

John discovered his voice at APLA’s Writer’s Workshop, a diverse group comprised of people living with HIV/AIDS who meet weekly to share their personal histories and practice their writing. It was within this tightly knit community that John was able to find the strength to share his story.

John’s partner, Rex, was an HIV dissident, part of a community of AIDS denialists who disputed the existence of the disease and any need for its treatment. Rex refused care, and the disease ultimately took his life.

While attending APLA’s Writer’s Workshop, John wrote a nonfiction essay about his painful experience – a piece so powerful that it was eventually published in a university literary journal and won the publication’s annual “Best Nonfiction Award.”

When asked about the piece, John says simply, “I was just doing my homework.”

The Writer’s Workshop is one of many ongoing groups at APLA that offer peer support to those facing HIV and other challenges, including addiction, depression, and trauma. APLA also offers individual mental health counseling as part of a range of health and other supportive services.

Read more of our client success stories – made possible through your generous support – at


Provide a Thanksgiving Dinner for an APLA client


This Thanksgiving, APLA will be providing Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings for our clients but only with your help.

Your donation today will help us make this a thankful occasion for someone in need.


World AIDS Day Food Drive

On December 1, 2012 (World AIDS Day), APLA will kick off a massive food drive throughout Los Angeles County to secure donations of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items for people living with HIV/AIDS. Donations collected at the food drive will help supplement the food provided to the many thousands of clients who count on our Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP) food pantries for their weekly staples.

Proper nutrition is crucial to the health and well-being of people who are HIV-positive. APLA sees over 11,000 low-income clients every single year, most of whom have an income of less than $800 per month -- not nearly enough to manage a chronic disease like HIV or AIDS and eat properly.

Here in Los Angeles, APLA operates the largest network of food pantries in the U.S. for people who are living with HIV/AIDS. Our clients are able to bring home four bags filled with groceries every single week at no charge to them.

Food donations can be dropped off at a number of locations on
December 1. To learn more about this vital program and to view a list of donations needed and drop-off points, please view our food drive Web page.

Thanks to our food drive media sponsor NBC4 for helping to make this program a success.

APLA thanks our new corporate partner, Pride Card Services, for its generous support. As APLA’s preferred payment processing provider, Pride Card Services is making a donation to support APLA for every agency supporter who signs up for their services – and an additional gift each month! Learn more about this innovative program at or call 866.334.2284.


Election Season Updates


APLA’s Government Affairs Division is looking ahead to the upcoming California state budget – due out in January – and like many health advocates across the state, Government Affairs is supporting passage of Proposition 30 on the November 6 ballot. This is the governor’s initiative to raise revenue through some temporary tax measures – income taxes on high-income individuals and sales taxes. Although no one wants to see taxes increase, the state’s budget and revenue crises continue, and without the ballot proposition, the cuts to state programs, especially health and education, could be devastating. To see more on the November 6 election, and Government Affair’s positions on state ballot measures, check out APLA’s new and dynamic Web site at Find our 2012 Election Guide at APLA’s Take Action page.

The Government Affairs Division and its statewide advocacy partners realized a significant success this fall, when the state agreed to allow people with HIV who receive both Medi-Cal and Medicare to opt out of the state’s newest plan to enroll them into managed care. Under the state’s proposed “duals” demonstration program, most of this population in the state will begin mandatory enrollment into managed care plans beginning in June of 2013. This proposal would impact many people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly those who access long-term care services like APLA’s Home Health Program. Our goal was to ensure that any transition of Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries maintains continuity of care and critical access to medications for people with HIV/AIDS, and in this case, we can report some success.

In July of this year, Los Angeles County began screening clients in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for eligibility for the county’s new Healthy Way LA program, which is a key step in the county’s and state’s progress toward implementation of full health care reform in January of 2014. As of mid-August, already more than 300 former ADAP clients had been enrolled into Healthy Way LA, with several thousand more anticipated enrollees by the mid-2013.

Keep pace with our efforts to defend ADAP and other life-sustaining HIV/AIDS programs in California during upcoming budget negotiations in Sacramento -- and don’t miss opportunities to share your opinions with legislators -- by joining APLA's "In the Loop" online advocacy network.



Kathy Griffin (above, with APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson) was one of the many celebrity attendees at the third annual Art Project Los Angeles. The annual red-carpet gala and art auction raised over $180,000 for APLA. View more photos of the event on the APLA Facebook page.

Photo: Dave Tisthammer

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APLA InSight Tours »
Various Dates

Macy's Men's Designer Event »
October 12

AIDS Walk Los Angeles »
October 14

Collective Effect Mixer »
October 24

Passport to Luxury Shopping Event »
November 7

Thanksgiving Moment »
November 12

APLA Food Drive »
December 1


“Thirty years later, we are still facing some of the daunting challenges that we faced at the beginning of the fight. Government support remains unsteady, and private giving rises and falls in sync with HIV awareness.”

-APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson, as quoted in Advocate, on the importance of events such as Macy’s Passport Presents Glamorama and AIDS Walk Los Angeles. Fundraising events such as these remain a crucial source of funds that help power the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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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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