The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis has awarded a total of more than $3 million to multiple local organizations to support HIV and AIDS diagnosis and treatment. Recipients include Eskenazi Health, the Damien Center and Brothers United.

October 26, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. — The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis recently awarded grants totaling $3.15 million to 10 health care providers and AIDS service agencies to transform their organizations and services toward a reinvigorated effort to end AIDS in Indiana. This round of grants is the largest amount ever awarded at one time for HIV services in Indiana.

Based on findings of a full review of efforts to end HIV in Indiana, conducted by The Fremont Center, The Health Foundation Board of Directors authorized a one-time special grant session and requested proposals to expand HIV testing for high risk populations, better integrate high quality HIV care into the primary healthcare setting, and improve retention rates for HIV care and treatment.

“The Fremont Center report showed us that our health care networks had to be better aligned, operating with a solid infrastructure and greater capacity in order to make a marked difference in our ability to end HIV in this generation,” said David Suess, The Health Foundation board chairperson. “The Health Foundation has long been known for taking the lead on hard-to-fund issues, like HIV/AIDS. Through this grant program, we are once again helping key agencies partner, change, and grow to meet the changing needs of those at risk for HIV.”

Eskenazi Health: Establishing HIV as the “fifth vital sign”

With the $1 million grant it received from The Health Foundation, Eskenazi Health will offer rapid HIV testing at eight Eskenazi Health Center locations to approximately 385,000 people. Eskenazi Health estimates that, within the 14-month funding period, more than 40,000 of those who are offered the test will opt to take it.

“Every patient that comes to an Eskenazi Health Center has his or her vital signs checked; blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. As a result of The Health Foundation’s generosity, we can ask all our patients if they want an HIV test, in essence making it our fifth standard vital sign,” said Dr. John Kunzer, chief medical officer of Eskenzi Health Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five people living with HIV are unaware that they are carrying the virus, and only 28% of those with HIV in the United States are successfully treated to suppress the virus and thereby stay healthy and prevent onward HIV transmission.

If a person receives a HIV-positive diagnosis at an Eskenazi Health Center, all eight locations will be able to provide specialized HIV care on site through an expert HIV treatment team trained and supported by the Eskenazi Health Infectious Disease group, which will increase the number of those who are retained in specialized care.

“Identifying more of those living with HIV and getting them into care is a vital step toward ending HIV transmission and AIDS in Indiana,” Dr. Kunzer added.

The Damien Center: Consolidated approach to increase health

While Eskenazi Health will combine testing and treatment within its health clinics, the Damien Center will add many primary care services to its HIV health care menu.

Through the $1.3 million grant it received from The Health Foundation, the Damien Center plans to add a full-time psychiatrist, a full-time dentist and dental exam room, three medical examination rooms, and a career development program to its suite of services for clients who are HIV positive or at high risk of HIV infection. They also will expand medical services provided by Indiana University Health’s LifeCare Clinic and Community North Infectious Disease Clinic.

“The Damien Center is a safe and trusted place for those with HIV to come when they don’t have a support network of their own,” said Tom Bartenbach, the Damien Center’s executive director. “Adding these additional programs to our array of in-house medical and wrap-around services increases our ability to monitor clients and help them sustain a lower viral load. Healthier clients are more employable and can become more self-sufficient.”

The Damien Center serves 1,400 clients, 93 percent of whom are living at or below the federal poverty threshold.

The Damien Center also will use a portion of the grant to address organizational capacity issues and raise additional income to achieve financial sustainability. According to Bartenbach, this includes hiring a full-time development officer and a Medicaid data entry specialist, as well as upgrading phone and computer systems to support the launch of an electronic health record system. The Damien Center also plans to launch a marketing and social media campaign to inform high-risk audiences of the range of testing and treatment as prevention options at the Center.

“The Board of The Health Foundation saw the potential synergies between the Eskenazi Health Center and The Damien Center's grant proposals,” said Betty Wilson, president and CEO of The Health Foundation. “For those patients who test HIV-positive at an Eskenazi Health Center but do not use the clinic for primary care, our grant ensures the Damien Center can be poised to bring them into its holistic care system and provide services immediately.”

Brothers United: Reaching the Hard to Reach

As the largest minority-serving AIDS service organization in the state, Brothers United is the key go-to agency for the LGBT communities of color. While the agency was originally formed to reach African-American men who have sex with men, it has become one of the few agencies to successfully provide HIV testing and treatment services to the transgendered and the Ball communities as well.

“This is quite possibly the most powerful funding we’ll receive for HIV/AIDS in the African American community,” said Larry Jimison, executive director of Brothers United. “We will be able to provide services and training that is culturally aware and appropriate to populations who have been ostracized from traditional care due to their sexuality, race, gender, or lack of stable housing and engage them into a care system they don’t naturally trust.”

The $250,000 grant to Brothers United will be used to expand office space and develop a robust marketing and outreach program to provide more people with HIV testing, linkage to medical care, and counseling and social services. A portion of the grant also will be used to hire a grantwriter to build additional fundraising capacity. In addition, Brothers United will upgrade hardware and software systems to better track high-risk transient populations and improve financial management capacity.

The full list of agencies receiving grants totaling $3,152,789 from The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis include:

• AIDS Resource Group of Evansville, Inc.: $30,000

• AIDS Task Force (Fort Wayne): $60,000

• Brothers United (Indianapolis): $250,000

• The Damien Center (Indianapolis): $1,301,589

• Eskenazi Health Foundation/Bellflower Clinic (Indianapolis): $100,000

• Eskenazi Health Foundation/FQHCs (Indianapolis): $1,000,000

• Indiana University Health LifeCare (Indianapolis): $194,600

• Indiana University Health Positive Link (Bloomington): $90,000

• Shalom Health Care Center (Indianapolis): $69,000

• Step-Up, Inc. (Indianapolis): $57,000

The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis is a private foundation that funds health-related projects not easily funded by other means, and organizations that offer health and health-related services, primarily to the community's poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Since 1994, The Health Foundation of Indianapolis has granted more than $10 million toward HIV

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