Sacramento’s largest HIV/AIDS nonprofit announced a plan last night that could potentially change the face of HIV in the city. CARES, the Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services, has partnered with community leaders, churches, politicians and hospitals to develop a five year campaign that will strive to eradicate all new cases of HIV in the region. The organization revealed the prevention and outreach strategies during their 20th Anniversary Gala on June 4 at the Radisson Hotel.
The campaign is called “Are you the difference?” and uses ambitious HIV/AIDS prevention and outreach strategies focusing on five key areas: getting people to know their HIV status; reducing new infections; ensuring sustainability of services; building a compassionate community; and improving health outcomes for people with HIV/AIDS.
“On a local and national level there is too much complacency about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The reality is we’re seeing climbing numbers of new infections each year mainly because people don’t understand the seriousness of this disease,” said Bob Kamrath, Executive Director at CARES. “With creativity and hard work, we believe it’s possible for Sacramento to become the first city in America to end all new cases of HIV.”
Between 800 to 1,000 people in Sacramento are unaware they are HIV positive. CARES hopes to identify 200 of these people each year, from 2010 to 2015, by increasing outreach in particularly hard hit African American and Latino populations. Other ways CARES plans to end the spread of HIV include: partnering with local churches to end the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, advocating for HIV testing as part of a routine health exam, developing aggressive marketing towards at-risk youth, creating a community wide HIV/AIDS volunteer program to increase community awareness, distributing over 30,000 condoms and lube each year promoting safe sex, and continuing the increase education in local schools.
CARES began developing the plan in fall of 2008 by gathering a steering committee that includes notable people such as Rick Cole, the Senior Pastor at Capital Christian Church; the Honorable Roger Dickinson of the County Board of Supervisors; Dr. Glennah Trochet, Health Officer for the County of Sacramento; The Honorable Darrell Steinberg, Senate President Pro Tempore; The Honorable Doris Matsui of the House of Representatives; along with several well known media figures, business leaders, and leading doctors at area hospitals.
From June 2009 to January 2010, CARES is garnering community support and raising funds for the five year campaign. The nonprofit kicked off their efforts by debuting a short video during the Gala which showed famous faces from around the region who are backing the effort. A region wide marketing campaign will soon follow, including billboards, a new website, building banners, print and radio advertisements, e-blasts, and targeted handouts, will drive people to the campaign’s new website, www.areyouthedifference.org. Once on the site CARES makes it possible for individuals, businesses and community organizations to register to “advocate” “volunteer” or “donate.”
“While CARES is leading this five year initiative to end HIV in Sacramento, we realize we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re spending the remainder of 2009 sharing the plan and getting the community excited,” said Kamrath. “We hope that other cities will take notice by creating their own strategies to end HIV. Together, we can end this disease.”
Before the evening concluded, approximately 400 attendees signed a large charter pledging their support.
For more information about “Are You the Difference?” please visit www.areyouthedifference.org. For more information about CARES, visit www.caresclinic.org.
Disclosure: Lesley Miller works for 3Fold Communications as a copywriter, public relations director, and social media coordinator. The Center for AIDS Research, Education & Services is a client of 3Fold Communications.