Face to Face Outlines It’s 2018 Achievements and Current Programs

At the first Face to Face staff meeting of the new year, we took time to reflect on all we accomplished in 2018 in support of our mission to end HIV in Sonoma County. Here is a short list:
  • We moved dozens of clients into housing, continuing to assist dozens more with their housing searches.
  • We supported clients through the complicated state and federal income benefits claims process.
  • We tested hundreds of people for HIV and Hepatitis C, finding a few new cases of HIV and guiding those individuals through our Sonoma County HIV system of care.
  • We distributed clean syringes to hundreds more through our evidence-based, HIV harm reduction Syringe Exchange Program.
  • Plus, we worked tirelessly to destigmatize HIV and the members of our community who are HIV-positive. U=U or those individuals with an undetectable HIV viral load cannot pass HIV onto their sex partners.
The F2F staff could not have been successful without our supportive community of HIV service providers, volunteers, community members and donors.
Now that the winter holiday season is behind us and your inbox is less full, I hope you will take a few minutes to read through the following highlights of our work ending HIV in Sonoma County and feel a sense of pride for your part in all that what we have accomplished together.
Warmly,
Executive Director
Undetectable = Untransmittable
That’s right! People living with HIV who are adherent to their meds and get to and keep an undetectable viral load have no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sex partners.
We began shouting this universal stigma-reducing message to our local community in all our marketing efforts–from the window signs at our office to our website and on Facebook and in print in The Bohemian.
Let’s destigmatize HIV in 2019.
Relax – you can enjoy sex without the fear of HIV
PrEP Navigation
Yes, indeed, there is a pill HIV-negative people can take once a day to reduce their risk of HIV transmission by up to 99 percent.
We tested hundreds of individuals at our office in Santa Rosa for HIV, plus many more at the North County Detention Facility and at annual events like Cinco de Mayo and Pride. During our test counseling session we introduce clients to and make referrals for PrEP.
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is the strongest shield against HIV transmission.
Relax – you can enjoy sex without the fear of HIV
Dozens Moved Into Housing
Others provided w/emergency financial assistance
Securing stable housing in Sonoma County is difficult on a good day. For some F2F clients, good days can be few and far between.
We serve the most vulnerable members of our community, many of whom are suffering housing insecurity or who are homeless, are persons with mental health challenges, and/or have no rental history. To lessen their stress and provide helpful resources, we have a veteran housing specialist on staff who works with our clients to ready them for the daunting task of searching for a home.
We are proud to have successfully transitioned two dozen of our clients from our emergency housing program onto Sonoma County Housing Authority’s “Move On” program. This program maintains the cost of rent as a percent of monthly income, allowing clients to retain more of their income for other necessities such as food, clothing, and transportation to and from work and medical appointments.
Benefits Counseling
Face to Face has a benefits counseling specialist who assists clients through the application process for help in resolving problems they may encounter while applying for various benefits programs. We can also help determine eligibility for benefit programs such as Social Security, MediCal, MediCare, disability, health, and life insurance, and more. We can support clients with the application process and filing claims.
Coupled with the many challenges our most vulnerable clients face, securing benefits can take months to years. This year, we helped 10 clients successful secure monthly benefits while helping dozens more file new claims, support existing claims, or accompanying them on redetermination hearings.
Our Wall is Welcoming
Building walls can be controversial, but not when the wall is welcoming and a part of an evidence-based HIV harm reduction strategy
The F2F Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) is that program–having grown exponentially in the three years since its inception. We now serve hundreds of clients per quarter.
Owing to this growth, we have expanded our facility to include additional storage for supplies, and to provide our counselors a bigger space in which to meet with clients.
As the main SEP in Sonoma County, we maintain services during regularly scheduled hours of operation from Tuesday – Friday from 9am-4:30 pm.
Our SEP clients–any person who uses drugs intravenously–can visit our new distribution facility for clean supplies and the exchange of used, with many sitting for regular HIV and Hepatitis C counseling and testing session. Importantly, we distribute Naloxone–overdose prevention medication that our clients have used to save the lives of dozens of people in Sonoma County.