March/April 2016

Greatest Promise on Earth Shines Light on Honorees

2016 Make A Promise

ARCW will recognize three dedicated partners who are ensuring Wisconsin remains a national leader in the fight against AIDS at the 30th annual Make A Promise Dinner and Gala at the Wisconsin Center on Saturday April 9, 2016.

Make A Promise is the annual formal Milwaukee gala and auction fundraiser supporting ARCW, having raised more than $4.3 million over its storied history. The event attracts 1,000 community and business leaders, philanthropists and friends of ARCW for an evening of fine cuisine, stellar entertainment, premier silent and live auctions, awards and dancing, while raising critical funds for the fight against AIDS. This year’s Make A Promise theme is ‘The Greatest PromisGe on Earth’ taking inspiration from nouveau cirque flair.

This year ARCW is honoring Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren for his courageous leadership addressing the heroin epidemic, opiate overdose and his long-term commitment to supporting care and treatment for people with HIV; BMO Harris Bank for its generous philanthropy in support of ARCW programs; and UW Health for its historic and on-going work specializing in providing health care to people living with HIV across the state.

“Our 2016 award recipients exemplify the important role that everyone shares as we work collectively toward a world without AIDS,” Michael Gifford, ARCW President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “They are all leaders who took action in their respective areas of expertise to provide invaluable assistance in the fight against AIDS and we are grateful for their partnership with us.”

Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren has been a key ally in the Wisconsin Assembly since his election to state office in 2006. As the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, Representative Nygren has been instrumental in building broad, bi-partisan support for the Mike Johnson grant which ensures access to health care and social services for people with HIV, regardless of their ability to pay. He is also the architect of Wisconsin’s response to the ongoing heroin and opiate epidemic, championing enlightened public health policy that is increasing access to drug treatment, naloxone and helping Wisconsin save lives from needless overdoses.

“Representative Nygren is one of Wisconsin’s leading political voices who has been responsible for building and keeping a coalition of legislators from both houses, both parties and from across the state who are committed to fighting AIDS and the opiate epidemic,” Gifford said. “We are lucky in Wisconsin to have leaders like Representative Nygren whose thoughtful approach to solving problems is making concrete changes in the lives of the people we serve.”

“I am honored to have been selected to receive the 2016 Leadership Award from ARCW,” Representative Nygren said. “Many times, heroin addiction begins with an addiction to prescription medications. The transition from legal drugs to heroin is very dangerous and includes the risk for people to contract HIV and hepatitis C. The bills we’ve passed as part of the HOPE Agenda will not be the silver bullet that fixes our state’s heroin and opioid problem, but they’re important steps in the right direction. If these changes save just one life from HIV, HCV, addiction or overdose, they’re worth it.” 

BMO Harris Bank’s commitment to ARCW is now in its 18th year, making them one of the longest-serving corporate supporters in the organization’s history.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to our long-time corporate partner, BMO Harris Bank for their significant philanthropic commitment to the ARCW mission,” Gifford said. “Their support for ARCW has ensured continued access to the health care and services people with HIV/AIDS need to live long, healthy lives.”

“BMO Harris is a proud supporter of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, an organization committed to the fight against AIDS and HIV prevention in our local community,” said Jud Snyder, President of BMO Harris Equipment Finance Company. “We are humbled to receive the 2016 Philanthropist of the Year award and look forward to our continued partnership.”

For more than 30 years, UW Health has demonstrated its tireless dedication to serving patients living with HIV/AIDS with outstanding health care, dignity and respect. Recently, UW Health expanded its partnership with ARCW to create Madison’s first community-based HIV medical home, increasing access to quality primary and specialty health care for people living with HIV/AIDS in south central Wisconsin.

“Our partnership with UW Health is the single most important development for the ARCW Medical Center since we merged with AIDS Network last February,’ Gifford stated. “While we have collaborated with UW Health going back to the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in Wisconsin, our new partnership marks the beginning of a stronger, deeper and more meaningful relationship that will build upon our successes and provide HIV patients in south central Wisconsin with new and exciting ways to receive their health care. Their leadership and vision to make the ARCW Medical Center in Madison a reality is transformative.”

Dr. James M Sosman MD, Medical Director of the UW HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Care Center, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health will be accepting the award on behalf of UW Health. “I am honored to accept the ARCW Leadership award on behalf of our large team of clinicians, faculty, staff and administrators at UW Health who work to provide the best care for HIV patients in our community. The ever changing healthcare landscape creates significant challenges for our patients and clinicians. The UW Health partnership with ARCW provides an additional option for HIV healthcare, and helps promote a more integrated approach to state-wide prevention and care.”

Special Appeal to Focus on PrEP

A new, cutting edge prevention program is now in full swing with the opening of the ARCW PrEP clinic.

Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a biomedical HIV prevention strategy that works by providing people at-risk for HIV infection with one of the medications used to treat HIV infection in individuals who have the virus. PrEP has been shown in several studies to dramatically reduce the risk of HIV infection. In order for PrEP to be most effective it should be used as a part of a broader HIV prevention strategy that includes regular testing, condoms and other HIV prevention methods.

PrEP patients at ARCW are first tested for HIV, and if they do not have HIV, receive a consultation with a medical provider to determine if PrEP is an appropriate course of preventative treatment. Patients enrolled in PrEP are also tested for a full range of sexually transmitted infections, vaccines for other infections they may be at risk for, and receive regular lab testing as part of the program. Patients also receive a wide education on sexual health and safer sex practices beyond PrEP.

The ARCW PrEP clinic is available to anyone, regardless of ability to pay. But like all HIV medications, PrEP is expensive. ARCW needs to raise an additional $200,000 this year to cover the expense of the PrEP clinic and is working toward enrolling 250 patients in the program this year. PrEP will be the focus of the special envelope appeal made to attendee at Make A Promise April 9. Learn more about this lifesaving program by visiting today.

ARCW Supports Senate Bill, Advances to House

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

On Thursday, March 10 the United States Senate passed legislation to fight the drastically increasing epidemic of painkiller and heroin abuse.

The bill, known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA, would expand existing initiatives and create new federal grant programs that support education on opiate and drug abuse treatment, overdose prevention efforts, helping medical professionals prescribe opiates responsibly, assisting veterans with addiction, and giving local officials aid in lowering death rates from overdoses.

“The strong bi-partisan support for CARA in the Senate reflects the growing sentiment across the country that we need to build upon efforts to combat the growing opiate and heroin problem,” said Bill Keeton, ARCW Vice President for Government and Public Relations. “A number of the programs and initiatives included in CARA are important tools ARCW will be able to take advantage of to help the people and families we serve who are struggling with addiction. Now is the time for the House of Representatives to pass this legislation and get it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

ARCW Recognized in 2016 Healthcare Equality Index

ARCW Named as “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by National Survey

The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) - Wisconsin’s largest and most comprehensive provider of HIV medical, dental, mental health and social services, as well as prevention programming - has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.

“The AIDS epidemic continues to disproportionately affect the LGBT community, particularly young gay men,” said ARCW President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Gifford. “We are honored to receive this recognition from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation demonstrating our unwavering commitment to provide the highest quality care to each patient and client that seeks treatment at our medical center.”

The recognition is a part of HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index 2016, a unique annual survey that encourages equal care for LGBT Americans by evaluating inclusive policies and practices related to LGBT patients, visitors and employees.

“Despite all the progress we’ve made, far too many LGBT people still lack inclusive and affirming healthcare. Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality are helping to change that, and, in the process, making the lives of LGBT patients and their families better each and every day,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “LGBT people have a right to be treated equally in all aspects of our lives, and HRC celebrates the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin for its work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”

ARCW has earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients, and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing the quality health care and respect they deserve.

ARCW is one of a select group of 496 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.

The Healthcare Equality Index offers healthcare facilities unique and powerful resources designed to help provide equal care to a long-overlooked group of patients, as well as assistance in complying with regulatory requirements and access to high-quality staff training.

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index 2016, or to download a free copy of the report, visit

National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day Celebrated by ARCW, Partners

On March 10th, the Wisconsin HIV Primary Care Support Network at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Pediatrics Department, in collaboration with the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee Health Department, Diverse and Resilient, the Greater Milwaukee Center for Health & Wellness, Inc., Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., the Milwaukee LBGT Community Center, Outreach Community Health Centers, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, 16th Street Community Health Center, UMOS, and the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee College of Letters and Science hosted an event celebrating National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Held at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Student Union, the free event included confidential HIV/Sexually Transmitted Disease testing, condoms and safe sex kits, information on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV issues, and information on community resources.

National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an annual, nationwide observance that sheds light on HIV/AIDS in women and girls. Every year on March 10 and throughout the month of March, federal, national, and community organizations come together to offer support and hope, reduce stigma, share information, and empower women and girls to learn about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment. This year marks the 11th observance of National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

ARCW Present for Presidential Visit

President Obama visited the city of Milwaukee on March 3 to celebrate the city winning the Healthy Communities Challenge, a program meant to get as many Americans possible insured under what's commonly known as Obamacare.

Milwaukee was among twenty cities that participated in the challenge, enrolling 89,000 people. Chicago came in second, Atlanta in third, and Detroit in fourth. All the communities involved were chosen because they had high numbers of uninsured residents.

ARCW was honored with two tickets to the event in gratitude for the work our staff did to sign 984 people up for health care. In this photo (first row on right) are Katlyn Stalnaker, ARCW Patient Services Coordinator and to her right Debra Endean, ARCW Chief Operating Officer.


Blades Against AIDS

In 2006, Patrick Farabaugh, Editor of Our Lives magazine, established the Madison Gay Hockey Association (MGHA), one of a growing number of gay hockey leagues around the nation. While MGHA is open to people of all sexualities, its recruiting is mostly focused on the LGBTQ community. Today, with over 150 members and 10 teams, MGHA is the largest gay hockey league in the country. Almost from its inception, MGHA players adopted HIV/AIDS as their cause and began the annual Blades Against AIDS fundraiser to benefit AIDS Network and now ARCW. To date, the annual winter event has raised more the $22,000 for HIV care and services over the past eight years. The event provides an opportunity for the public to come skate with MGHA members along with also raffles and a skating exhibition. This year’s Blades Against AIDS took place on March 12, at Hartmeyer Ice Arena in Madison.

The Remedy Event

On February 24, nearly 200 people came together in La Crosse for the fifth annual Remedy Event to support ARCW. This year’s event featured a live auction, dueling pianos, and a drag show and continues to bring HIV awareness to the La Crosse area. The Remedy Event raised more than $2,500 to support ARCW this year. The annual event is coordinated by ARCW Ally, Travis Pyka.

ARCW Junior Board "Super-Bowl" Event

On January 30, the ARCW Junior Board partnered with Bay View Bowl to host its 3rd annual “Super-Bowl” event, bringing together dozens of young professionals, families and friends for an afternoon of bowling, food, raffles, and fun. The event, which raised more than $1,000 supported HIV prevention, care and treatment programs at ARCW. The ARCW Junior Board promotes awareness about ARCW and its response to the fight against AIDS, and serves to build fund raising support for ARCW among young professionals in Milwaukee and surrounding communities. Individuals interested in learning more about this group can contact Amber Wegener at

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.