When the AIDS outbreak in 1981 left hundreds of individuals in dire need of compassion and support, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) organized in 1984 to provide a solution by offering services and distributing information about the newly discovered virus. The group of volunteers offered a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination and implemented a buddy program to provide emotional and practical support to individuals dying from AIDS-related illnesses. Now, more than 30 years later, PATF is the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Supporting more than 650 individuals across 11 counties in Pennsylvania, PATF serves as a one-stop-shop for individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS. The organization offers a wide range of services, including permanent housing, advocacy, nutrition and a pharmaceutical program. In 2014-2015, PATF administered 2,002 HIV tests to the community which contributes to their mission to prevent and reduce the spread of infection. In a unique approach to ensuring patient adherence to treatment, PATF began a Lost-To-Care program that identifies HIV-positive individuals who are no longer receiving medical care and helps them re-engage with the medical system.
With DIFFA’s support, the organization launched its medical clinic in November 2016 allowing individuals to access PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), obtain medical care, and STI and hepatitis C treatments.
“Opening the medical clinic enabled us to expand our pharmacy program. While HIV treatment has drastically improved since the introduction of lifesaving medications in the 1990s, many new medical challenges have arisen as individuals with HIV begin to age. Our clinic—a comforting and stigma-free space—provides routine sexual health care for the community, regardless of HIV status,” Sean DeYoung, PATF CEO explained.
Funding from DIFFA provided crucial financial support that helped outfit, launch, and support the new clinic until it became self-sustaining. “The transition from a social services organization into an integrated care provider increases our ability to serve our clients,” said DeYoung.
PATF hopes to expand capacity, including the addition of a full-time mental health therapist and mental health services “This is an exciting and transformative time at PATF. Adding mental health services will add another important facet to our new integrated care service model,” DeYoung explained excitedly.
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force is just one of many grantees that DIFFA supports through its grant making efforts. You can learn more about their work at www.patf.org