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INLAND AIDS PROJECT

As published in The Community Foundation Spotlight in The Press Enterprise on December 28, 2013

Working to support individuals affected by HIV/AIDS, the Inland AIDS Project provides supportive services that help clients successfully live within the community and thrive.

inland-aids-1The Inland AIDS Project is dedicated to improving and maintaining the quality of life for those managing HIV/AIDS by providing education and support services throughout Inland Southern California. Inland AIDS Project was founded in 1983. The organization provides services over a 22,000 square mile area which includes the entire County of San Bernardino, and mid and western Riverside County.

In the early years of the Inland AIDS project, the agency was focused on helping the quality of life for those who had HIV and AIDS, with the understanding that their lives were most likely shortened. With a goal of improving their quality of their life, clients worked with a nurse and a social worker. Today, strides have been made in treatment, making HIV/AIDS a survivable disease, however, the need for community support remains. The agency's services remain similar and critical to quality of life. D. Joy Gould, President and CEO of Inland AIDS Project says, "We connect clients with services that they might not be encouraged to go and seek out such as mental health and substance abuse."

A diagnosis of AIDS/HIV can be a difficult one to come to terms with and some Inland AIDS Project clients have challenges with substance abuse. For some, this is a means of dealing with the depression of a diagnosis or another life situation that exacerbates the challenges of living with AIDS/HIV. As specialists in overall care for the disease, getting clients substance abuse treatment is one of the many services offered by the Inland AIDS Project. "Many of our clients are not diligent about their medicine," says Gould. "If a client is using substances, they probably aren't adhering to a treatment regimen."

inland-aids-2One of the most important services offered by the Inland AIDS Project is food distribution. "Many of our clients are living on $10,000 a year which covers rent and some of their medicine," says Gould. "However, they don't have money for food and they need protein in their diets in order for their medication to be optimally effective." The agency provides food vouchers and transports 160 bags of groceries a month to clients.

Inland AIDS Project receives some financial support from the community, including The Community Foundation which has provided funding for food vouchers through the S.L. Gimbel Foundation Fund. However, the need continues. There is also a need for expanded educational programming. Gould notes that there is currently very little funding for education and that the public is no longer as informed about the current concerns regarding HIV/AIDS. "People have said to me that they didn't even know that AIDS was still an issue," says Gould.

In the future, Gould states that the Inland AIDS Project would especially like to expand their ability to offer transportation. The transportation system in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties can be challenging for clients seeking to get from their homes to the doctor or to the dentist. Gould says, "We constantly have to turn down clients and apologize because we are already booked for appointments that day."

inland-aids-3The length of service the Inland AIDS Project has within the community has made them specialists with a tremendous impact. Gould describes a client who was battling substance abuse and very close to being evicted. However, working with Inland AIDS Project, this individual was able to keep his apartment, complete a rehabilitation program, and return to the necessary medication regime. "He is going to school part-time now and no longer in need of our services," says Gould.

Gould states that without their programming many individuals with HIV/AIDS would fall through the cracks. "The need for our services has not declined over the years and neither has the number of people who need them," says Gould.

If you want to find out more about the Inland AIDS Project and how to support the agency, you can visit www.inlandaidsproject.org or call (951) 683-2360.