June July 2018

AIDS Ride Wisconsin is Just Weeks Away

In only a few short weeks riders will strap on their helmets and get their bikes in gear for the 16th 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 the closing ceremonies. There is a route for every level of cycling enthusiast.

There is also an opportunity for participants to meet Matt Bomer at this year’s AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run. Every registered participant that refers a new participant to register will be put into a drawing to meet Matt and have their photo taken with him on October, 6.

Participants, both riders and crew, can also qualify for fantastic fundraising prizes. Click here to learn more.

It’s not too late to join the fun, with 25 and 50-mile route options available you can be confident that we have a route to suit you.

RMC & ARCW Reach Out to At-Risk Communities for National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day was observed on Wednesday, June 27. ARCW and Rocky Mountain CARES (RMC) offered free rapid HIV testing to individuals interested in getting tested throughout the day.

On National Testing Day community members were highly encouraged to get tested through outreach efforts, including social media, and community-based testing events.

The CDC’s theme for this year’s National Test Day was, “Test Your Way. Do It Today.” The theme serves as a reminder that there are more ways than ever to get an HIV test. Whether from a primary care provider, community clinic or testing event, there is always a way to get tested in a way that fits your comfort zone.

Several community-based testing events highlighted National Testing Day throughout ARCW and RMC offices. In Eau Claire, staff hosted a testing event at Scooters Bar. ARCW staff in Kenosha hosted a testing event on June 30 at Club Icon. In Denver, RMC hosted an event on June 28 in conjunction with Denver Public Health to reach out to young adults in the area. It encouraged attendees to get tested and to learn more about HIV risks and prevention.

Testing is always available for free at ARCW and RMC. Visit arcw.org to learn more about HIV testing, or to schedule your free, fast and confidential test today.

RMC Expands Medical Services in Partnership with the University of Colorado Health

Rocky Mountain CARES (RMC) is expanding access to HIV care and treatment services with the addition of a new physician through a unique partnership with University of Colorado Health.

Dr. Cindy Firnhaber, joined RMC in May and is a board-certified infectious disease specialist who brings a tremendous passion for helping patients. She has a specific emphasis on women’s health, including co-morbidities such as hepatitis B and HPV.

Dr. Firnhaber has been involved in the care of HIV patients in South Africa since 1990 and has dedicated her professional life to the clinical care of people living with HIV. As a researcher, Dr. Firnhaber has participated and led clinical studies that test better treatment and care strategies for HIV-positive patients.

In addition to training doctors in the United States and in Johannesburg, South Africa, her research focus has been on the care of co-morbidities in HIV-infected patients with strong interests in hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The lack of cervical cancer screening led to her development and implementation of several cervical cancer-screening programs where she has practiced in South Africa. Dr. Firnhaber oversaw the largest HPV prevention and treatment clinic for HIV patients in the region for over nine years—based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Her expertise in HIV co-morbidities will be an invaluable to patients at RMC.

Welcome Cindy!

ARCW Psychiatrist Presents at National Conference

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) Psychiatrist Dr. Asma Iqbal presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in New York, May 5. Dr. Iqbal was part of a symposium titled, “Novel Patient Engagement Strategies for Underserved and Vulnerable Persons with HIV.”

Dr. Iqbal’s area of the symposium focused on homelessness and HIV. She discussed how homelessness directly impacts HIV care and leads to poorer clinical outcomes while discussing how the ARCW HIV Medical Home counteracts these trends and helps positively impact viral suppression rates.

In her symposium, Dr. Iqbal demonstrated how ARCW delivers integrated health care and housing services, including funding sources for housing. “Having a place to call home is one of the most important reasons why patients succeed with HIV treatment,” Dr. Iqbal shared.

We commend Dr. Iqbal for her leadership among the behavioral health community and for providing strong evidence of the success of the ARCW HIV Medical Home.

RMC Partners in Community-Wide Effort to Increase Testing

In a community-wide effort to decrease new HIV infections across the Denver area, RMC has partnered with 11 area organizations to increase testing efforts in areas that have a higher prevalence of new infections.

RMC prevention specialists have spent several months developing stronger referral systems, understand other programs, and strategize a single mission to increase access to HIV testing and PrEP in high-risk communities with other testing organizations in and around Denver.

The collaborative group’s goal is to identify and partner with five new HIV testing sites in the next six months in the zip codes with the highest prevalence of HIV. It’s estimated that 20% of people living with HIV in the United States do not know they carry the virus. Increased testing will help people know their status and take action for their health. RMC staff ensure individuals who are newly diagnosed are linked to bare immediately and provide ongoing counselling and referral to the RMC PrEP Clinic for people who do not have HIV but who are at high risk.

Student Leaders Tour ARCW and Reach Out Through Social Media

On Friday, May 18 a group of 35 student leaders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison spent time learning more about ARCW and touring its Milwaukee office.

The students were part of the Wisconsin Experience Bus Trip (WEBT) program. WEBT is an annual, week-long excursion for UW–Madison students with exemplary leadership skills. The trip is designed to build bridges by fostering leadership, cultural understanding and a strong sense of community across Wisconsin.

After touring the ARCW HIV Medical Home with ARCW President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Gifford, the students received a presentation, who expressed their appreciation in a series of tweets using hashtag #WEBTlovesARCW.

In addition to using Twitter to engage college students about the importance of HIV prevention, care and treatment and the work of ARCW, ARCW President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Gifford recently shared a collection of 25 leadership lessons learned to mark his 25 years with the organization.

The use of social media at ARCW and RMC is constantly evolving, with Mike’s 25 tweets part of an on-going strategy to highlight awareness of not only programs and services, but how ARCW is able to successfully meet the changing and often challenging needs of people living with and at-risk for HIV in an increasingly complex health care system.

You can follow Mike and all of ARCW social media feeds at:

Celebrating Pride Throughout Summer

Pride month may technically be over, but there are still celebrations going on throughout the summer. 

In Madison, Pride events start anew next month:

  • August 18 – Woof’s Block Party

  • August 19 – Madison Pride Parade

  • August 25 – Rock County Pride Parade

Madison staff also had booths at both Fruit Fest and the Badgerland Classic Softball tournament that took place in June.

ARCW was the exclusive sponsor of the Thursday night opening of Milwaukee’s PrideFest with DJ Cash Cash. We also hosted booths in the health and wellness & youth areas to provide outreach and education. Additionally, the food pantry collected food at the entrance to the Summerfest grounds.

Denver PrideFest took place on June 16 & 17. Staff hosted a booth during the event at Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver.  Community members were able to gather information about our services including PrEP, as well as pick up free condoms, play games and snag some give-a-ways.
Kenosha Pride will take July 15 at Veterans Memorial Park. Keep an eye out for ARCW staff at this event.

Greater Wisconsin also will play host to Pride celebrations throughout the summer, including:

  • July 14 - Pride Alive, Green Bay

  • August 4 - Menominee Pow Wow, Keshena

  • August 11 - Bowler Pow Wow, Bowler

  • (Date TBD) September - La Crosse Pridefest, La Crosse

If you have questions about any of these events or would like information on how to get involved, contact us today at communications@arcw.org.

Event Posthumously Honors Former ARCW Employee

ARCW staff member Jimi Reinke was tirelessly devoted to the mission of ARCW and its prevention efforts. Jimi passed away on July 8, 2017 after losing a courageous battle with cancer. Jimi was a well-respected, cherished ARCW employee of nearly 16 years. 

As the first anniversary of his passing approaches, his smile is vividly remembered by those of us who worked with him and knew him.

In addition to being an incredible HIV prevention professional, Jimi was an artist. In fact, he received a bachelor’s degree in Art. His family is organizing an art show featuring his works. The event will honor not only his memory, but also his passion for his work. 

The retrospective will take place Saturday, August 11 at 4 p.m. at the Common Wealth Gallery in Madison. Artwork sales will benefit ARCW. ARCW allies are invited to participate in this event.

Summer Events Are Sizzling

ARCW kicked off pride weekend in Milwaukee with the year’s most colorful run, the Big Gay 5K. Milwaukee Gay Sports Network hosted the 7th Annual Big Gay 5K Run/Walk. The event welcomed 140 runners to Veterans Park and netted $1,400.

It’s time to get in gear for the 2018 AIDS Ride Wisconsin. The ride is only weeks away! Departing from Madison on Friday, July 27, the ride will head toward camp at Carroll University in Waukesha, returning Sunday, July 29 to Madison for the closing ceremonies. There is a route for every level of cycling enthusiast. If you can’t commit to a full day, consider the 25- or 50-mile route options. Register and donate today at aidsridewis.org.

AIDS Walk Wisconsin & 5K Run will be Saturday, October 6. This year we will be joined by director and award-winning actor Matt Bomer. Visit aidswalkwis.org to register for the run or walk today. Grand Walkers, individuals raising $1,000 or more, get to have their photo taken with Matt at the walk.

Visit arcw.org to learn more about upcoming events.

MAC AIDS Fund Awards RMC $10,000 for New Food Pantry

The increasing cost of living in the Denver Metro area is resulting in a higher rate of homelessness and more demand for access to sources of nutritious food for people in need. In response, an international ally is stepping up their efforts to combat food insecurity.

The MAC AIDS Fund, a MAC Cosmetics initiative, is an international foundation that provides resources to people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Recently, the MAC AIDS Fund awarded RMC $10,000 to support our efforts to build a food pantry at Rocky Mountain CARES. 

RMC Case Managers have noted an increase in patient referrals to food banks and food pantries. Although the existing referral sources are doing great work, their capacity is limited. Further exacerbating our patients’ challenge is that in some cases the food banks and food pantries are not conveniently located and have limited operating hours, forcing our patients to make a choice between food and treatment.

Long commutes to and from food banks and pantries in combination with limited operating hours create barriers to accessing not only nutritious food, but also succeeding with the high-quality care they receive from RMC. The HIV Medical Home Model at RMC will help eliminate this barrier because the food pantry will now be co-located with the other services essential to their HIV care and treatment right in the same facility.

Private funding is critical to the mission of ARCW and RMC. In an effort to better serve patients and clients and engage donors in the exciting work of bringing the HIV Medical Home model of care Denver, ARCW and RMC have hired a new Director of Development, Kenneth Barela, to help raise funds in Colorado.

“Ken brings skills and an acumen that will be important to our growth in Denver,” said Dan Mueller, ARCW Chief Development Officer. “He is steeped in fundraising experience and as a former mayor of a Denver neighboring community Ken understands not only the importance of engaging in relationships, but also being accountable to them.”

In 2018, to date, more than $25,000 has been raised and nearly $1 million in requests are pending seeking support for the various services and programs of RMC.

RMC allies interested in helping us provide food to HIV patients or support any of our programs and services should contact Ken Barela, at 303-802-5302 or by email at kenneth.barela@rockymountaincares.org.

La Crosse Sorority Hosts 23rd Consecutive Fundraiser for ARCW

On April 27 the women of Gamma Gamma Sigma at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse held their 23rd Annual Teeter-Totter-A-Thon to raise funds for ARCW.

The event started through a personal connection. "One of our members had a family member who had AIDS, so that's how this event started 23 years ago," explained Alyssa Glassen, co-coordinator of the Teeter-Totter-A-Thon.

The event featured music, raffle items, lawn games, and other fun activities such as the teeter-totters. Click here to read news coverage about the event.

Contact our staff if you would like to learn more about how to host your own fundraiser and support the fight against AIDS.