January 2018

New Year, New Tax Law

Changes in the federal tax code, effective January 1, 2018, have increased the standard deduction for taxpayers: $24,000 for a married couple and $10,000 for a single person. The changes limit deductions for state and local taxes to $10,000, meaning married couples need $14,000 more in deductions, while single individuals need $2,000 more. Deductions such as home mortgage interest and charitable contributions can help tax filers receive a tax benefit from itemizations. While we understand many donors make charitable contributions for reasons outside of a tax deduction, it is a nice benefit that helps charities.

Even under the new laws you can still benefit your favorite charities and reduce your taxable income through a charitable IRA. The only requirements are you have to own a taxable individual retirement account (IRA), be over 70.5 years of age, and are required to take minimum distributions from your IRA.

As you receive your December 31, 2017 IRA statement and review your minimum distribution for 2018, consider not receiving that distribution directly into taxable income because it may push you into a higher income tax bracket or increase the Obamacare tax on net investment income. Instead, a charitable IRA rollover can satisfy your minimum required distribution for the year up to $100,000, with the distribution going directly to your favorite charity.  You will not receive an income tax deduction with the charitable IRA rollover, but if you don’t itemize deductions under the new tax law that lack of deduction should not be an issue.  The tax benefit by choosing a charitable IRA rollover is the minimum required distribution does not increase your taxable income.

Please consult your tax advisor regarding the new tax law and the mechanics of a charitable IRA rollover.

ARCW Expands Outreach for Open Enrollment Period

In 2017 the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act was cut in half, running from November 1 to December 15, 2017.  Funding from the federal government for advertising and marketing for this period was also reduced significantly, making it much harder for ARCW and RMC patients to know when to enroll in health insurance for 2018.

In response, ARCW and RMC expanded efforts to help as many patients as possible enroll in health insurance.  Staff in Wisconsin and Denver encouraged all patients and clients to make an appointment with a staff member to ensure  their current Affordable Care Act plan was still right for them (some plans were no longer available) and/or to determine which plan may best suit them.

The enrollment period in Wisconsin was reduced from 12 to six weeks, but thanks to a grant, ARCW had staff available for appointments during regular business hours, evenings and Saturdays. The grant allowed ARCW to hire four limited-term employees specifically for enrollment assistance and outreach. Statewide staff were able to directly enroll 221 patients and clients in care for 2018.

Rocky Mountain CARES staff referred patients and clients to enrollment assistance services in the Denver area. The enrollment period in Colorado ran through January 12, as the state has its own insurance exchange system in place.

RMC Expands Staff to Meet Needs of Latinx Patients

Spanish is the second most common language spoken in the United States. Currently, at Rocky Mountain CARES approximately 20 percent  of patients and clients are of Latin or Hispanic descent. In order to meet the needs of patients in the Denver area, RMC recently hired a bilingual case manager and prevention specialist to better assist Spanish-speaking individuals living with or at risk of contracting HIV.

Prevention Specialist Yessenia Alvarez provides services in both English and Spanish and:

  • Provides rapid HIV testing and risk-reduction counseling;
  • Screens patients to see if PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the right prevention tool for them;
  • Assists new PrEP patients with access to medical PrEP care and to understand PrEP adherence, appointment schedule and pharmacy; and,
  • Provides retention services to help clients stay on PrEP.

Spanish-speaking Clinic Case Manager Jean Rodriguez works collaboratively with clients to create achievable goals, steps to reach those goals, and supports clients to become their own advocate. He also:

  • Helps obtain access and coordinates medical treatment and support services for clients living with HIV to help them live long, healthy lives.
  • Works to retain clients in care and minimize clients being lost to care.

RMC hopes to continue to grow the number of Latinx patients and clients with the addition of Alvarez and Rodriguez and will continue efforts to meet the diverse needs of Denver’s patient population.

Data to Care Delivering Results

In 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) initiated a new public health strategy utilizing surveillance data to identify individuals with HIV who are not in care.

DHS is now funding four additional case management positions at ARCW to focus on locating out-of-care patients and re-engaging them in the continuum of care. These case managers also focus on increasing the number of patients with an undetectable viral load, the healthiest a person can be with HIV.

The new initiative relies on an exchange of data between ARCW and DHS. Last year ARCW provided the names of 96 patients that had fallen out of care, specifically:

  • Patients not seen in the clinic for at least one year
  • Patients we were unable to contact, despite repeated attempts
  • Patients who had scheduled a new patient appointment but did not show

Of the 96 patients that ARCW submitted, the state confirmed:

  • 33 patients  were in care elsewhere, moved out of state or had passed away
  • 36 patients had re-engaged at ARCW on their own
  • 10 patients were not confirmed as being HIV positive via confirmatory testing
  • 17 patients were fully reconnected and  re-engaged

ARCW staff continue to implement a number of reconnection tactics with individuals who had fallen out of care, including phone calls, verifying current phone numbers, texting (as this may be more effective, particularly with younger patients), mailing letters encouraging patients to call, updating bad addresses from returned letters home visits. Staff also use online offender search tools to determine their last known address.

Of the 17 patients designated as out of care, ten were located. Five of these patients had had moved out of state. Of the five remaining in state, three have been re-linked to care. Of those three, two have been re-engaged in care and had at least one additional appointment.

ARCW staff will continue their concerted efforts in 2018 to connect with individuals that have fallen out of care, including identifying people who are “at-risk” of falling out of care, and engaging them before that happens.

Light & Unite Red Fights Opioid Crisis

ARCW will be actively participating in National Drug Facts Week activities in Milwaukee during January 22 – 28.

The Light & Unite Red Committee is a “community-wide prevention committee led by the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD),” according to their website. The committee has organized a week of free events, including Narcan training by ARCW Prevention Staff on Saturday, January 27 at Southridge Mall.

Visit their website to learn more, or contact ARCW Prevention services at arcw.org.

Holiday Food Basket Appeal Exceeds Goal

The recent Holiday Food Basket appeal far exceeded its $50,000 goal thanks to the generous support of 310 donors and community partners. The campaign ended 2017 raising $61,374.

Over 20,000 meals were distributed to people living with HIV and their families throughout Wisconsin during the holiday season. The appeal’s success was due largely to 12 members of the ARCW Junior Board who effectively used text messaging (sending over 2,642 messages) on #GivingTuesday to raise $5,570 toward our year-end goal.

One longtime ARCW donor, Joseph Pabst, pushed the campaign over the top when he stepped forward with a special $10,000 gift, including dollar-for-dollar matches to the Junior Board #GivingTuesday campaign. Joe’s gift helped inspire $13,820 in new and increased gifts.

Visit our website to learn more about the holiday campaign.

ARCW Receives an Early Spring Bloom

Flowers For Dreams, a company that services both the Chicago and Milwaukee markets, started as a college project and later turned into a business model built on profit and purpose.

Each month, the company features an organization with a worthy cause and gives 25% of all profits to it. For February 2018 ARCW will be featured.

If you’re planning to send a loved one flowers for Valentine’s Day, consider ordering with Flowers For Dreams. Bouquets start at just $35, and there are no hidden fees or delivery charges. A portion of the proceeds from every purchase in February will be donated to ARCW

2018 Events Start the New Year Strong

On Sunday, January 7, the Milwaukee-area’s best restaurants came together to offer tastings of featured dishes before the closing performance of the hit Broadway musical Waitress at the Marcus Center of the Performing Arts.

355 guests sampled tastings from 18 local restaurants, raising $45,863 for the fight against AIDS in Wisconsin. Click here to see event photos!

Prevention Staff from RMC will be participating in a series of community education events before performances of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at The Fox in Denver, CO. The pre-show program will run January 24 – 26, and February 2.

This is the time of year to get excited for Sundays – and a new, mad cap season of Camp Bingo! All three events will be at the Madison Concourse Hotel and ticket information will be emailed soon. The dates are:

  • Sunday, January 28
  • Sunday, February 25
  • Sunday, March 25

On February 28, Gatherings Event will host the 6th Annual Remedy Event to benefit the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. The upscale event will feature a raffle, silent auction, samples from vendors and a live auction with one of the area's best auctioneers. Enjoy music from up-and-coming local celebrities, and a drag show from some of the area's most handsome and glamorous royalty. Click here for more information!

Sign up for those winter spinning classes to get yourself ready for the 2018 AIDS Ride Wisconsin. The ride will depart from Madison on Friday, July 27 and head toward camp at Carroll University in Waukesha, returning Sunday, July 29 to Madison for our closing ceremonies. Save the dates and make a New Year Resolution to do the AIDS Ride in 2018. There is a route for every level of cycling enthusiast.

Visit ARCW.org to learn more about upcoming events.

Overcoming Your NegotiaPhobia Gives Back to ARCW

Co-author Cary Silverstein, a longtime ARCW supporter, is donating to ARCW a portion of the proceeds from sales of his new book Overcoming Your NegotiaPhobia: Negotiating Your Way Through Life. Silverstein, who consulted with Fortune 500 companies in Wisconsin, provides real-life examples to help readers build the skills needed to overcome the fear of negotiation at life’s various milestones.

Whether negotiating a first salary, a curfew with a teenager, or a new living arrangement with aging parents, you can purchase Overcoming Your NegotiaPhobia to feel prepared, confident, and in control in negotiation settings—and support the mission of ARCW. Click here to learn more.


  • January 28 - The Madison Concourse Hotel - Camp Bingo
  • February 25 - The Madison Concourse Hotel - Camp Bingo
  • February 28 - La Crosse - The Remedy Event
  • March 25 - The Madison Concourse Hotel - Camp Bingo
  • April 28 - Wisconsin Center - Milwaukee - Make A Promise
  • July 27, 28 & 29 - Madison, Milwaukee, Madison - AIDS Ride Wisconsin