Tuesday, July 14, 2015

We've moved!

With the redesign of our website, damien.org  in April of 2015, we also moved this blog to the site for ease of use for our readers.

You can find now find us at damien.org/news

 Happy reading!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three easy ways to give that don't cost you anything: Part 1

Friends, we have an important question. Do you do any of these things?
  • Use a credit card
  • Shop at Kroger
  • Buy things on Amazon
Yes? Us, too! Lucky us and lucky you, each of these just became a super easy way to give back to The Damien Center, and they won't cost you a penny. We know it's not always easy to give as much as you'd like to causes you care about, so read on for three easy ways to make your everyday spending a little more philanthropic!

Let's start with the credit card. We've recently developed a partnership with The EqualityCard Project, an organization that has created a unique tool to allow philanthropic-minded individuals and businesses to give back to organizations like ours that support equality for all individuals.

The EqualityCard™ Visa is a great way to support our mission, without any additional expense to you. Here's how it works: The EqualityCard™ is a traditional Visa credit card that donates an amount equal to 1% of all of the cardholder's purchases to the LGBT non-profit of their choice. There are no out-of-pocket costs for the cardholder, and no annual fee to use the card. 100% of the amount donated to us on your behalf is provided by The EqualityCard Project, and best of all, the donation is tax deductible for you!

If you own a business, the corporate version of the EqualityCard™ allows you to generate similar donations to support our organization, without affecting profitability. EqualityCards™ can be issued to any number of your employees, for the routine purchases that they make on behalf of your business every day. Business owners, we hope you'll consider giving to The Damien Center through the EqualityCard™ Corporate Giving Program.

Best of all, The EqualityCard™ Visa is easy to set up and operates like other standard credit cards. We'd love for you to check out our partnership. Consider applying for an EqualityCard™ and designating The Damien Center as the beneficiary for your donations. You can do that by visiting the EqualityCard™ website at www.equalitycardproject.com and using our invitation code: 2053.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 - more easy ways to give that don't cost you a penny!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Is PrEP right for you?

At The Damien Center, we're always looking for new tools to add to our HIV prevention toolbox. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is one of those tools. It's the new(er) kid on the HIV block, and we want you to be informed about what it is it, how it works, and if it might be the right prevention tool for you. The best way to figure that out? Check out our Q & A below and contact us today to keep the conversation about PrEP going. Jeremy Turner, our Director of Supportive Services, is available at 317.632.0123 ext. 254 or jturner@damien.org.

What is PrEP?
PrEP is a new HIV prevention approach where HIV-negative individuals use HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) medications to reduce their risk of becoming infected if they are exposed to the virus. The medications work to prevent HIV from establishing infection inside the body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada, an HIV medication, for PrEP use in 2012.

Who does PrEP work for?
PrEP has been shown to reduce risk of HIV infection through sex for gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and heterosexual men and women, as well as among people who inject drugs. PrEP has been shown to help reduce HIV infection risk in multiple studies, including the iPrEx trial, Partners PrEP, TDF2, and the Bangkok Tenofovir Study.

How well does PrEP work?
Truvada for PrEP provides a significant reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals who take the pills every day as directed. If a daily dose is missed, the level of HIV protection may decrease. It only works if you take it. People who use PrEP correctly and consistently have higher levels of protection against HIV. It does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STI) or pregnancy and should still be used in conjunction with condoms. It is not a cure for HIV.

Is PrEP right for me?
PrEP may be right for you if you have a partner or partners known to be HIV-1 infected OR are a gay, bisexual, or other man who has sex with men in a high HIV prevalence area or social network and has one or more of the following conditions: a diagnosis of a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the last year; exposure to an STI through a sexual network in the last year; 10 or more sexual partners in the last year; used methamphetamine in the last year; or had unprotected anal intercourse with a partner of unknown HIV-1 status with any of the factors listed above.

I think PrEP might be right for me. What's next?
If you’re interested in learning more on how to access PrEP, contact Jeremy Turner, Damien Center Director of Supportive Services, at 317.632.0123 ext. 254 or jturner@damien.org, or ask your physician about PrEP.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A look back at 2014 at The Damien Center

It's officially the last day of 2014, and we're officially running on adrenaline from all the exciting things that happened here over the past year! It was a busy one, and in the spirit of looking back in order to look forward, we put together this little Storify to help us out.

It's populated by photos from our Instagram, so if you like what you're seeing, hop on over and follow along for our 2015 adventures. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Are you a Damien Center client? Help us out!

Damien Center clients, we need your help. We're getting ready to overhaul our website and communications, and we want to get your feedback before we hit the ground running. What information do you look for on our website? Is it easy to navigate? What's missing?

Our survey is quick and painless, but it will help us build a website that provides what you're looking for in the easiest way possible.

Who qualifies as a Damien Center client? If you're accessing (or have accessed in the past) any of our services, that's you! We hope you'll take a few minutes to help us help you by giving your thoughts and feedback.

Take our client survey now!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A day at The Damien Center

Picture a day with us. Our lobby is packed. Both client computers are in use for job searches. A young woman is requesting an emergency appointment with housing, since her job ended unexpectedly. A gentleman has re-entered care and our staff is walking him through available services.

A woman has visited the food pantry and now waits for her appointment in the medical clinic. One patient is learning about health insurance options while the partner of an individual living with HIV is learning about preventive medications. The testing center is busy, helping clients learn their status and explore different prevention methods.

Then, an HIV+ patient, Michelle*, steps out of her care specialist's office, a mix of relief and pride on her face. In 2013, she re-entered care after having dropped out of care years before. Her viral load was dangerously high - over one million. Don't know much about HIV viral loads? The number represents the amount of HIV in the body, and Michelle was in risky territory.

Our intense personalized plan to support Michelle included daily phone calls to be sure she stuck to her strict medical regimen and weekly home visits. We walked alongside her, helping her eliminate the barriers to care that she was contending with.

That's how our approach works - every patient works with our staff to develop an individualized care plan that provides the specific support they need to get their health back on track. The end goal? To empower patients to get in care and stay in care.

It's been six months, and Michelle has just learned that she has achieved an undetectable viral load. The most amazing thing about Michelle's story? It's not unusual for our patients. The most effective way to prevent new HIV infections is to identify every individual living with HIV and provide them with the support they need to achieve undetectable viral loads. Our staff has helped Linkage to Care patients achieve an average viral load reduction of 93% within their first year in the program precisely through stories just like this one.

Our comprehensive approach changes lives, and remarkable outcomes like this are our norm. On our website, you can explore more about what we do to empower our patients as well as help us restore health to our patients and eliminate the threat of HIV for future generations. Help us make more incredible stories like Michelle's possible in 2015!

*Client's name has been changed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Support Hoosiers living with HIV this weekend

This time of year, we're busy. Our 27th Annual Grande Masquerade is just around the corner on October 18, the United Way of Central Indiana is at full throttle with their wonderful fall giving campaign, fairs and festivals abound on weekends, and we're busier than ever supporting those living with HIV in our community with Care Coordination, counseling, housing support, and more.

But right now is precisely when we need to slow down and remember why we're doing what we're doing. Who are we serving, what is the difference that we're making? The Annual Indiana AIDS Walk is one of our favorite weekends of the year because it reminds us of the answers to these questions.

The Indiana AIDS Fund, a program of The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, raises money through the annual Indiana AIDS Walk for the Gregory R. Powers Direct Emergency Financial Assistance (DEFA) Fund. AIDS service organizations (like us) and other grantees of the Indiana AIDS Fund use DEFA funds to provide emergency financial assistance and direct care for Hoosiers affected by HIV/AIDS. DEFA helps pay for utility payments, rent and other housing costs, medical expenses, prescription drug costs, transportation expenses, and food, clothing and other basic needs.

The coolest thing about it? More than 1,000 people walk in the Indiana AIDS Walk every year, and last year, the event raised more than $235,000. Families, groups of friends, businesses, civic leaders, youth, fraternities, sororities, churches, educators, volunteers, corporations, children, pets, concerned citizens, clubs, and associations – anyone interested in helping Hoosiers with HIV in emergency situations can participate and make a difference.

You can join the walk as an individual, join an existing team (like ours, Team Damien), or make a financial contribution to the walk. Here are the important details:

2014 Indiana AIDS Walk
Saturday, September 27
Herron Morton Place Neighborhood
(At the corner of 22nd and Talbott Streets)
4 – 6 p.m., registration opens at 3:30 p.m.
The Walk steps off at 5 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We're having an open house, and we want you to join us!

When The Damien Center purchased our historic building at 26 N. Arsenal Ave. a few years ago, an exciting new chapter began in the life of this building. This year, the former school turns 100, and we're celebrating with an open house! 

On Thursday, September 4 (that's two weeks from today), we invite you join us for a casual, come-one-come-all open house at our home just East of downtown at Washington St. and Arsenal Ave. Tour The Damien Center, meet our hard-working staff members, spin the prize wheel to win some Damien Center swag, and say "Happy Birthday" to our historic headquarters.

See some of the new things happening around the Center as well as learn more about our established programs. As we work toward lowering our patients' HIV viral loads and in turn improving the health of our community, we innovate, always working to find the most effective ways to meet the needs of HIV+ individuals in Central Indiana. We hope you'll stop by our open house to learn more about HIV and AIDS, what we do, who we are, and what our work means for our community. 

Here are the key details: 

What: Damien Center Open House
When: Thursday, September 4, 5:30-7:30pm
Where: The Damien Center, 26 N. Arsenal Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Who: You and anyone you'd like to bring along!

Let us know you're coming by visiting our Facebook page, or just drop by on September 4!

Friday, July 18, 2014

News roundup: HIV/AIDS in the headlines

It's been a busy couple of months for the HIV/AIDS community. We've been heartbroken to learn that fellow AIDS activists and researchers lost their lives on a Malaysia Airlines flight to the International AIDS Conference in Australia, and that a toddler thought to be cured of HIV showed signs of infection once again. We've listened keenly as national and global health leaders issued recommendations that more people in high-risk groups should be taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent the spread of HIV. We've celebrated as new advancements were made in the fight against HIV, and we've evaluated and reevaluated our own practices in light of new research findings.

Check out the links below to read these news stories and more, and please remember that by sharing these links, we are in no way making endorsements. Happy reading!

Malaysia Plane Crash Victims Included About 100 AIDS Conference Attendees, Report Suggests
HuffingtonPost.com - July 17, 2014

Mississippi Child Thought Cured Of HIV Shows Signs Of Infection
NPR.org - July 10, 2014

World Heath Org advises taking PrEP drug to prevent HIV infection
LGBTQNation.com - July 12, 2014

CDC Launches New Campaign - Start Talking. Stop HIV. - for Gay and Bisexual Men
Blog.AIDS.gov - May 21, 2014

Apps for gay, bisexual men tied to STI risk
Reuters.com - June 12, 2014

Advocating Pill, U.S. Signals Shift to Prevent AIDS
NYTimes.com - May 14, 2014

CDC Launches New Campaign – Start Talking. Stop HIV. – For Gay and Bisexual Men - See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/05/cdc-launches-new-campaign-start-talking-stop-hiv-for-gay-and-bisexual-men.html#sthash.ThOmNQQS.dpuf
CDC Launches New Campaign – Start Talking. Stop HIV. – For Gay and Bisexual Men - See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/05/cdc-launches-new-campaign-start-talking-stop-hiv-for-gay-and-bisexual-men.html#sthash.ThOmNQQS.dpuf
CDC Launches New Campaign – Start Talking. Stop HIV. – For Gay and Bisexual Men - See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/05/cdc-launches-new-campaign-start-talking-stop-hiv-for-gay-and-bisexual-men.html#sthash.ThOmNQQS.dpuf
CDC Launches New Campaign – Start Talking. Stop HIV. – For Gay and Bisexual Men - See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/05/cdc-launches-new-campaign-start-talking-stop-hiv-for-gay-and-bisexual-men.html#sthash.ThOmNQQS.dpuf

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Circle City IN Pride Week starts Saturday!

This Saturday, the 26th Annual Circle City IN Pride celebration kicks off with the Rainbow 5K Run/Walk - but that's only just the beginning! The whole week is packed with events, activities, and more throughout the entire for everyone (even your pets!), all leading up to the Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade and Circle City IN Pride Festival.

Come join us on Saturday, June 14, for these two wonderful Pride events! We'll be there starting in the morning with a unit in the Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade, then we'll be setting up shop in the health fair in the main festival. Stop by our booth, which is number 235 by the main stage, to spin our prize wheel and chat with Damien Center staff and volunteers! Spend the day at the festival enjoying vendors, food, entertainment, and what's sure to be an outstanding festival once again.

Circle City IN Pride Festival
Saturday, June 14
American Legion Mall, Downtown Indianapolis
All Ages
Parade at 10am; Festival gates at 10am

Visit circlecityinpride.org for all the details!