Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) (02.07.12) - Friday, February 10,
In 2005, Newport News-based Health and Home Support Services
(HHSS) received a grant to start a "pre-release" program to
help inmates with HIV/AIDS prepare for their transition out of
prison. Until that time, the East End nonprofit's sole focus
was residential medical assistance for seniors and the
Pre-release case managers work with clients from Williamsburg
to Currituck County who are nearing the end of their
sentences. They visit jails almost every day, check that
clients are taking their medication, and talk about HIV
infection. One of the tasks is helping clients become more
comfortable with disclosing their serostatus to loved ones.
That is a major hurdle for many, said Gwendolyn Ellis-Wilson,
a pre-release case manager.
With more funding since 2005, the group has expanded to work
with other HIV/AIDS patients and high-risk individuals. HHSS
also can help former inmates who need temporary shelter,
thanks to recent funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation
Housing had been a missing piece, said Marolyn Edmonds, the
group's program administrator. Many of the inmates have been
written off by family and friends, said Ellis-Wilson. Without
housing, it was difficult to make sure clients adhered to
treatment. The EJAF money will allow HHSS to rent two homes
and buy one in Newport News.