June 2016

Taye Diggs Announced As 2016 AIDS Walk Wisconsin Honorary Chair

Award-winning Broadway, television and film star Taye Diggs will be the Honorary Chair of the 27th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run. The event will take place on Saturday, October 1st at the Summerfest Grounds in Milwaukee.

The announcement was made public May 23 in a live broadcast over the AIDS Walk Wisconsin and ARCW Facebook channels as well as video conference to more than 200 staff and volunteers in ARCW offices statewide.

“Twenty years ago I was proud to be an original member of the cast of RENT on Broadway. Today, I am continuing my support of the fight against AIDS as the Honorary Chair of the 27th annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run,” said Diggs. “I’m proud of what this event will do for people with HIV and AIDS, I’m proud that this event will continue funding to stop the spread of HIV in the first place and I am honored by the invitation to help Wisconsin keep its place in our country as a leader in responding to this epidemic.”

Diggs is well known for the role of Benny Coffin III in Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical RENT. His film career includes How Stella Got her Groove Back, Brown Sugar, Chicago and The Best Man series. His television career includes roles on the Guiding Light, Ally McBeal, Kevin Hill, Will and Grace and Private Practice.  He has received awards from the Screen Actors Guild, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the NAACP Image Awards.  He is currently voicing a role for the animated movie, My Little Pony, due out next year.

“So many people have come to know the fight against AIDS through the musical RENT. In the 20th year of its debut on Broadway we are excited and proud to be working with Taye Diggs as our Honorary Chair,” said AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Gifford.  ARCW produces AIDS Walk Wisconsin.

Over the past 26 years, more than 125,000 registrants have participated in AIDS Walk Wisconsin raising more than $12.3 million. One hundred percent of the pledges raised from AIDS Walk Wisconsin have stayed in Wisconsin to benefit people living with HIV in the state.

“The demands of the AIDS epidemic are greater than ever.  A record number of people with HIV – many of whom are living in deep poverty - will turn to ARCW this year for health care and supportive services that will keep them alive,” said Gifford.  “Our walkers are the difference between being penniless with nowhere to turn for care and living healthy with HIV.”

This spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published new estimates on the extent of the AIDS epidemic in America.  According to these estimates, 1.2 million Americans have been diagnosed from every walk of life.  HIV continues to disproportionately affect the gay community with gay men having a 1 in 6 chance of contracting HIV in their lifetime and for gay men of color the chance is 1 in 2.

“People need to understand that this epidemic is still claiming lives and that we still need to mount a fight against it. As Honorary Chair, I am positively challenged by this,” said Diggs.

The AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run website is live and ready for registration and is optimized for smart phone use. The event is free. Registrants who raise pledges will win exciting prizes.

“I expect to see everyone down at the Summerfest grounds on Saturday, October 1st,” Diggs said. “Go to www.AIDSWalkWis.org today. Register, raise pledges and if you raise $1,000 or more in pledges, I get to have my photo taken with you at the Walk. Let’s make that a goal.”

PrEP Information Available at PrideFest

As part of the ongoing ARCW goal to increase access to PrEP and ensure that everyone who is at-risk for contracting HIV has access to this paradigm shifting program, special attention will be focused this summer on reaching out to people about PrEP at Pride events throughout Wisconsin.

Staff from multiple ARCW programs and services will be working together to provide people who would like to learn more about how they could benefit from PrEP with information and educational materials. Staff from ARCW at Pride events will be a diverse array and will include medical providers, pharmacists and prevention specialists.

“People who are eligible for PrEP at PrideFest will have the opportunity to speak directly with providers and staff from ARCW about the program, including pharmacists,” said Rick Fons, Vice President of ARCW Pharmacy. “This is the greatest innovation in HIV prevention in recent history. We encourage anyone that is interested or curious to seek us out to learn more.”

Individuals who test negative for HIV at Pride events will receive additional follow-up from ARCW staff to schedule a PrEP consult and further STD screenings, answer insurance coverage questions and enroll them into ongoing care. PrEP patients receive quarterly screenings for STDS and counseling on safe sex practices.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about PrEP please visit our website, arcw.org/prep

Big Gay 5K

On Thursday, June 9 at 5:00 PM allies in the fight against AIDS and members of the LGBT community will come together for the 5th Annual Big Gay 5K fun run.

The Milwaukee Gay Sports Network (MGSN) organizes this event as their team fundraiser for AIDS Walk Wisconsin. MGSN’s purpose is to, “promote organized athletic groups and activities among the LGBT community and their allies in the Greater Milwaukee area and beyond. MGSN also will promote or support organizations and associations working to promote health and well-being in the LGBT community.”

“This is always one of the most spirited and colorful fundraisers produced to benefit AIDS Walk Wisconsin,” according to Mary Hartwig, Director of Special Events at ARCW. “We look forward to welcoming runners at every level. From longtime competitive runners, to individuals doing their first race.”

The event will be emceed by the effervescent and always colorful, Karen Valentine. The Cream City Foundation is generously sponsoring the event again this year.

Early registration is $30, with $35 for those wishing to register the day-of. Anyone interested in participating can find more information or register here.

ARCW Food Drive Offers Reduced Admission to PrideFest

Don’t miss your chance to save on admission to PrideFest 2016 with ARCW! Once again patients will benefit from this year’s Pridefest in Milwaukee. On Saturday, June 11th and Sunday, June 12th from 11am to 2pm, attendees who donate four nonperishable food items to the ARCW Food Pantry at the entrance to PrideFest will receive a ticket voucher good for same-day 2-for-1 admission valid only during the hours of the promotion.

ARCW Donor Promotes PrEP

PrEP has caught the imagination of AIDS organizations everywhere who know what a game changer this strategy is in the prevention of HIV and they are doing what they can to advocate for its accessibility. In Wisconsin, PrEP visibility is getting some extra help from one woman and her Facebook page.

Ruthie Weatherly has recently launched a Facebook page to ensure all eligible patients are able to access PrEP – the newest tool in the HIV prevention toolkit. Ruthie, a former ARCW prevention specialist and current ARCW donor, is dedicated to promoting public health.

One way to increase visibility and advocacy for this mission is the
LetsPrEPWI Facebook page. The goal of the page is to inform Wisconsin residents about PrEP, provide resources and referrals, post fun, engaging and relevant info in a way everyone can find interesting and informative.

ARCW is partnering with Ruthie on LetsPrEPWI in engaging people most at-risk for HIV who are getting a considerable amount of their information through social media.

Like Ruthie’s page at LetsPrEPWI.

ARCW Social Services Director To Present On Integrated Care At Housing Summit

Cheryl Thiede, Senior Director of Social Services at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin will be sharing her time, expertise and vast knowledge of integrated care at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) summit in Chicago coming up on June 9.

The presentation will include information on the integration methods ARCW uses to merge housing, social services and healthcare, with a focus on rural settings. 

The objective of the summit is to expand dialogue surrounding supportive housing and its measurable impact on improved healthcare, better outcomes in treating substance use disorders, addressing the needs of those leaving institutions and hospitals, keeping families together, and giving our veterans the dignity they deserve. The summit will also detail how the Affordable Care Act changed the ability to connect almost every individual to a pay source for healthcare.

Cheryl will be presenting; “Build a Better Roadmap: Linking Housing & Healthcare in Rural Settings.”  The session will not only explore how stable housing is critical to positive healthcare outcomes, but how to make connections to stable housing in rural areas. The session will explore the HIV Care Continuum and how everyone serving those living with HIV/AIDS can improve the continuum, including housing services providers.  “Improving the HIV Care Continuum improves population health as well as individual health,” Thiede stated. “I’ll be providing the ARCW Health Home Model as an example of how this tie between housing and health care can work.  I’ll discuss how we’ve integrated care and services and broken down silos between historically separate service areas.”

The presentation will highlight new program models, discuss approaches to better connect housing and health systems, and brainstorm ways to improve services in rural settings.

Wisconsin AIDS Ride Queues Up For 14th Annual Ride

Spanning four days and over 300 miles, riders are training and fundraising for the 14th Annual Wisconsin AIDS Ride July 28 – 31. The Wisconsin AIDS Ride is a unique experience that will challenge, energize and inspire you. This all-inclusive, fully-supported ride through beautiful southern Wisconsin raises critical funds for the fight against AIDS.

The ride will kick-off in Madison where riders will head to Horicon to camp in a communal setting for the duration of the event, which will end back in Madison on the 31.

Riders have the option to participate for four full days, the Saturday “Century Day” 100 mile ride, or participate for the weekend.
This community-based event is supported by dedicated volunteers and crew that do everything from sweep the roads to preparing food and moving equipment to and from camp.

To learn more, donate or register please visit wisaidsride.org


Over $53,000 Raised At The Red Ribbon Affair

On Friday, May 20 more than 220 friends in the fight against AIDS gathered at the Madison Concourse Hotel for the 24th annual Red Ribbon Affair.

The event began with a wonderful silent auction that showcased original works of art, autographed Broadway memorabilia, vintage limo rides, and private concerts. Some of the hottest items up for sale were “Tracery Tapestry” from Design Fugitives and a private Polka Band performance.

Familiar allies mixed with guests who were attending for the first time. Congressman Mark Pocan and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi attended the event as well.

ARCW President & Chief Executive Officer, Michael Gifford, highlighted the ongoing complexities of the fighting the disease in his address of the attendees, “The fight against AIDS has always gone well beyond the virus.  It extends to some of the greatest problems of our society – poverty and prejudice, illness and isolation, hunger and homelessness, discrimination and drug addiction.  ARCW proudly fights HIV within this broader context.”

He continued, “At its core, the fight against AIDS is a fight to save lives - one by one, person by person.  Each life saved, a victory.  Each life lost, a defeat.  So yes, in the lifesaving work you so generously support this evening, we keep score.”

The event raised over $53,000 for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, nearly $11,000 of that from the silent auction alone.
Visit the ARCW Facebook page to see photos from the evening.

Baird Gives Back At ARCW

On Friday, May 13 eight volunteers from the Baird employee resource group, Spectrum, volunteered at ARCW in Milwaukee as part of the company’s “Baird Gives Back” week of community service.

Baird associates and their family members donated more than 4,800 volunteer hours to help nearly 100 non-profit organizations as part of the firm’s annual “Baird Gives Back Week.” The firm-wide event, which was launched six years ago, included more than 1,350 volunteers from 60 Baird offices in cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, London, Milwaukee, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai and the Twin Cities. Associates across the international financial services firm helped with projects such as preparing and serving food, teaching and mentoring children, working with seniors, cleaning up cities and parks, building homes and performing indoor and outdoor maintenance.

Organized by the Baird Gives Back Associate Resource Group, which consists of associates who share a passion for volunteering, the weeklong event is an extension of Baird’s commitment to the communities in which its associates live and work, which is core to the firm’s culture. This caring commitment is a tradition built through the efforts of the firm, Baird Foundation and the community involvement of Baird associates. In 2016, associates receive two paid days off to perform volunteer service through the “Baird Cares” program.

Baird employees volunteered for three hours performing a variety of jobs which included: assembling safer sex kits, stuffing AIDS Walk Wisconsin registration materials and making decorations for the Red Ribbon Affair.

The resource group will also be participating in the upcoming Cream City Corporate Challenge for AIDS Walk Wisconsin.

For information on any of these activities, please call Nick Giebel in Milwaukee at 414-225-1615, or Dan Curd in Madison at 608-316-8601.