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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CALIFORNIA: AIDS Group Brings Awareness to Occupy SF
David Duran
November 23, 2011
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco) (11.17.11) - Wednesday,

Three groups recently visited the Occupy San Francisco encampment to raise awareness about homelessness among people with HIV/AIDS and LGBT youth. AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco, St. James Infirmary and Homonomi joined forces for the Veterans' Day event, which included HIV testing, needle exchange, and a brown bag lunch for attendees.

San Francisco has the highest rate of homelessness for people with HIV/AIDS, said Brian Basinger, AHA/SF's director. The groups hope to meet Mayor Ed Lee and urge him to end homelessness for PWAs, sex workers, and LGBT youth within four years.

While turnout was a bit less than organizers expected, Basinger was confident his message was heard. The gathering also commemorated the decade-long ARC/AIDS Vigil of 1985-1995, in which people with HIV/AIDS and allies continually camped out at San Francisco's UN Plaza demanding recognition and federal HIV/AIDS research funding.

Housing should be first priority among support services, Basinger said. Currently, housing help for San Franciscans with HIV/AIDS is provided through the Department of Public Health, but an individual's consideration for support is linked to registration at a city clinic, he said. Some AHA/SF clients do not want treatment or such registration, he said.

"We have to build on what started and furthermore implement a true vision of housing first in San Francisco," Basinger said. AHA/SF works to protect and secure new housing and promote public policy expanding such opportunities, he said. The integrated model includes affordable housing referrals, emergency financial assistance with back-rent and move-in deposits, rent subsidies, tenant-rights counseling, landlord mediation, a legal services collaborative, and financial literacy education.