APLA Health is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is "to achieve health care equity and promote well-being for the LGBT and other underserved communities and people living with and affected by HIV."
APLA Health is one of the largest non-profit HIV service organizations in the United States. Its activities include improving access to care; providing exceptional, cost-effective, and culturally competent care; growing the number of people they serve; and partnering with other organizations to ensure the delivery of comprehensive services to promote health and wellness in the populations they serve.
The agency was founded as AIDS Project Los Angeles in 1983 by Max Drew, Nancy Cole Sawaya, Matt Redman and Erv Munro with the financial support of their community of friends and family. On July 28, 1985, APLA Health held the world's first AIDS Walk, which brought in $673,000. The Walk is now the largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in Southern California.
Among the services provided by the agency are primary medical, dental and behavioral health care, housing, case management, nutritional health, treatment adherence, and home health. APLA Health operates eight Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP) food pantry locations around Los Angeles and collaborates with five other organizations to provide food pantry services across the United States, effectively running the nation's largest network of food pantries for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
APLA Health has four founders—Max Drew, Nancy Cole Sawaya, Matt Redman and Erv Munro. In December 1982, they held the first APLA Health fundraiser, which raised over $7,000.
Many early fundraising events were held in gay bars and discos, as the gay and lesbian community mobilized to fight the disease. A fundraiser at Studio One in March 1984 featuring Joan Rivers raised $45,000 for APLA Health and other new AIDS service organizations.
Then, on July 28, 1985, APLA Health held the world's first AIDS Walk. AIDS Walk Los Angeles is now the largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in Southern California.
Days before the first AIDS Walk, it was disclosed to the world that movie star Rock Hudson had AIDS. In response, Elizabeth Taylor helped to spearhead a drive by the entertainment community to confront the disease. This helped ensure the success of the first Commitment to Life event. The event, held at the Bonaventure Hotel honored former First Lady Betty Ford, raised $1.3 million. The Commitment to Life benefits, much like the AIDS Walks, became a major annual event.
Benefits staff help APLA Health clients with a variety of public benefit programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, Medi-Cal, General Relief and food stamps. Staff also assist with and accept applications for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Service extends to one-on-one counseling to Social Security beneficiaries on work incentive programs; referrals to Vocational Rehabilitation and the California Employment Development Department; and online education and job training resources.
APLA Health provides clients with access to public benefit programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, Medi-Cal, AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), General Relief and food stamps. Staff provides one-on-one counseling to Social Security beneficiaries on work incentive programs; referrals to Vocational Rehabilitation and the California Employment Development Department; and online education and job training resources.
Other APLA Health services include: Home Health, Clientline, Mental Health, Nutrition Education,Treatment Adherence and Residential Services.
Shared Action and Shared ActionHD are capacity building assistance (CBA) programs of APLA Health in collaboration with the Center for HIV Identification Prevention and Treatment Services (CHIPTS) of University California Los Angeles, and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The National AIDS Marathon Training Program, Annual Oscar Viewing Party at The Abbey Food & Bar, Art Project Los Angeles, Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.), and A Thanksgiving Moment: A Thanksgiving Moment.
APLA Health advocates for greater attention to men who have sex with men (MSM) in the global HIV & AIDS epidemic. In September 2008, APLA Health held its first congressional briefing on MSM and the Global HIV & AIDS Epidemic, and will continue work to ensure implementation of HIV prevention for MSM through PEPFAR.
In addition to domestic advocacy, APLA Health also supports the work of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV by acting as the organization’s fiscal and administrative agent. Guided by its own steering committee of 20 members from 17 countries in the Global South and North, the MSMGF is committed to responding to HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men worldwide through advocacy, information exchange, knowledge production, network development and programs that promote human rights and support the empowerment of MSM around the world.
On Monday September 15, 2008, APLA coordinated a congressional briefing on men who have sex with men (MSM) and the global HIV & AIDS epidemic, held in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The event was aimed to raise awareness of the disproportionate impact of HIV & AIDS among MSM globally; of the complex factors that fuel transmission; and progress towards universal access to HIV-related services for MSM.
The Community-Based Research (CBR) unit at AIDS Project Los Angeles provides culturally, linguistically and gender-appropriate research designed to improve services to people, communities and institutions affected by HIV/AIDS. The program also serves as a resource to other organizations conducting community-based research.
Housed within APLA Health's Education Department, the CBR unit is one of few programs of its kind operating within an AIDS service organization.
Applied research conducted by APLA Health's CBR team addresses topics including: sexual risk and health behaviors; HIV/AIDS treatment education; Medicare policy; substance use; social and cultural factors shaping HIV risk for gay men of color; health disparities; and social stigma and discrimination. Study findings are used by APLA Health to develop new services, improve existing ones and highlight trends in the field. APLA Health CBR findings have been presented at local, statewide, national and international levels.
Optimist is a quarterly donor magazine that spotlights APLA Health services, major events, fundraisers, community news and the activities of the many volunteers