ActionAIDS is a Philadelphia-based organization that focuses on creating an AIDS-free generation through a variety of proven strategies.
Located at 1216 Arch St., the organization seeks to sustain and improve the quality of life for those people living with HIV and AIDS.
Since September 1986, ActionAIDS has helped people living with HIV and AIDS in various communities including Germantown. They helped more 100 people within its first year and it’s now the largest HIV/AIDS service organization in the state of Pennsylvania.
ActionAIDS currently serves more than 5,000 clients a year with the help of more than 350 committed volunteers and 84 professional staff members. The volunteer and staff members focus on building relationships with thousands of men, women and children who are living with HIV. The organization’s services are relationship oriented, client centered and individualized.
Their services include case management, HIV testing, supportive housing, prevention education, HIV treatment as prevention and volunteer services. Services are provided at ActionAIDS’ five offices throughout Philadelphia and 38 host sites.
Medical Case Management is the central service that serves more than 3,000 people. The medical case managers are versatile and trained professionals who work closely with clients to arrange care. As an extension of case management, ActionAIDS offers a family program that focuses on the needs of families as a unit and currently serves 120 families with thorough case management and in-home assistance.
Prevention education also plays a significant role in the organization’s mission to help those living with HIV/AIDS. The prevention department engages with several communities such as Germantown to provide education and outreach.
“We recently reached out to Center in the Park and we’ve been coordinating with them and their Germantown senior center,” ActionAIDS intake specialist Zack Hagert said. “It’s a wonderful resource for the community.”
With the help of highly experienced staff, the organization delivers interactive HIV workshops to give accurate information about the transmission and prevention of the disease. The workshops are geared towards young adults, adults, families and seniors.
While the lack of housing and homelessness are considered the most serious threats facing people living with HIV, ActionAIDS provides a housing program that serves more than 600 people each year. The program focuses on the prevention of homelessness to promote the economic and self-reliance among those living with HIV.
Housing specialists work with clients to identify housing needs through assessment, constant contact, referrals and more. Education, counseling, access to safe and affordable housing and support are all included in the program. Bi-weekly housing information sessions are also held to assist those in need.
The organization works closely with a strong volunteer community that helps the ActionAIDS office run smoothly. Volunteer services include the Buddy Program and office support.
The Buddy Program is now the oldest and largest buddy program in the nation and serves more than 250 people each year. The trained volunteer buddies work alongside case managers providing emotional and practical support.
Volunteers also assist with vital tasks around the agency, outside events and other clerical duties.
Support groups are offered within the ActionAIDS organization. Volunteers and staff facilitate support groups that are held weekly in a confidential and supportive environment. Within the groups, members discuss the daily challenges of living with HIV and AIDS.
Employment services are also available for clients through the Positive Action program. Those seeking employment are able to become better prospective employees. Positive Action assists job seekers by creating resumes and cover letters while facilitating employment searches. Information sessions are provided to discuss topics such as employment barriers and securing employment. Individuals within the Positive Action program have access to training courses that helps to improve their skill sets.
The Positive Action Coordinators also provide educational classes that are open to all ActionAIDS clients. The classes cover topics such as employment resources, educational resources and how to complete a job search.
ActionsAIDS consistently host special events with the help of volunteers, staff and local businesses. The events help to raise funds and awareness to fight HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. The organization has participated in events such as AIDS Education Month, Philly AIDS Walk, World AIDS Day and Dining Out For Life.
The Dining Out For Life event is the organization’s signature annual event where participating restaurants donate 33 percent of each of diner’s food bill to local AIDS organizations.
ActionAIDS prides itself being “friends for life” and focuses on helping those living with HIV/AIDS with the practical challenges they face daily. The organization upholds the belief that no one should face AIDS alone. Rather it’s through volunteer work or case management ActionAIDS staff members are always willing to help provide the support and encouragement needed by those who are facing HIV/AIDS.
ActionAIDS continues to build an educated, diverse and committed community of individuals to make sure that no one faces AIDS alone.
— Text, Images and Video by Tiana Huckaby and Cherea Hatcher