The AIDS Task Force was begun in 1985 by a group of volunteers who saw the need to care for people infected with the disease and provide the community with accurate information. Today the task force has grown into a professional social service agency serving an average of 200 clients each year and sharing information with 8,000 people annually in northeast Indiana through programs and presentations.
The task force has a formal mission statement that summarizes its work in the community.
The mission of the AIDS Task Force in northeast Indiana is to improve the quality of life for men, women, and children with HIV and AIDS, reduce the incidence of HIV and STD infection, and increase public understanding of HIV and AIDS.
The AIDS Task Force offers services for persons living with HIV/AIDS, their families and loved ones, persons at risk for HIV, and the general public.
The AIDS Task Force receives support from a number of sources. The Indiana State Department of Health provides significant funding for the case management program of the task force. The United Way of Allen County also contributes to this important aspect of the program. Lincoln Financial Group Foundation is a major funding source for prevention education programs. The Indiana AIDS Fund, Parkview Foundation, Journal Gazette Foundation, and various northeast Indiana community foundations have made important grants toward the rural outreach program, and the Indiana AIDS Fund also funds the African American Youth program. The Foellinger Foundation provides generous operating support for the task force. Individuals, clubs, churches, and businesses continue to be important donors to all programs offered by the AIDS Task Force. If you would like to contribute financially to the work of the task force, contact the office.
The five task force case managers meet clients’ needs through referrals, support groups, counseling, substance abuse counseling, wellness programs, food and nutrition programs, and advocacy for clients who have difficulty obtaining services from other agencies. Other services include access to clinical trials, support groups for family and friends, transportation, housecleaning, buddy services, and a food pantry.
For clients who need help paying rent and utilities, various funding sources are available through referrals to township trustees, the Housing Authority or Section 8. The AIDS Task Force also operates a twenty unit residential facility in downtown Fort Wayne for clients. The house provides one bedroom and efficiency apartments, all with full kitchens and private baths. The facility has a common living room, kitchen, meeting room, dining room, weight room, and hospice room.
The task force provides support to clients through legal referrals as well as social and recreational programs. The task force sponsors support groups for persons living with HIV/AIDS, children of people with HIV/AIDS, families, women, partners, and care givers. Also available are an addictions group for HIV+ clients and a “positive peers” group for clients to enjoy social interaction and outings.
Wellness programs seek to empower people to take control of their lives and live well. Sensitive to the body-mind-spirit connections, these programs for persons living with HIV/AIDS focus on diet and nutrition, exercise, relaxation, stress reduction techniques, healing touch, message therapy, and artistic expression.
Education & Prevention Programs
Education programs are offered at schools, churches, community organizations, health care and social service agencies, and jails. The task force works with these organizations to present a program appropriate to the population they serve. Education programs also include conferences, workshops, trainings, seminars, and a resource library.
Rural Outreach Program
The Rural Outreach program offers HIV prevention education, HIV testing, and HIV prevention counseling to persons at risk for HIV and to the general public in northeast Indiana. The Rural Outreach Coordinator provides this testing and education to persons in jails, homeless shelters, juvenile detention centers, women’s bureaus, drug and alcohol treatment centers, schools, and universities. The task force also has public testing sites in ten counties outside Allen County. All HIV testing is done with the OraSure test, an oral HIV antibody test. Results are given at the same site two weeks after the test.
Sister To Sister Program
This program provides targeted HIV prevention education outreach to women in communities of color between the ages of 21 and 49 through in-home prevention parties. At these parties, women come together with friends to discuss HIV prevention, risk reduction, and behavior change, with a strong emphasis on negotiation skills in practicing safer sex methods. Follow-ups are done with the same women in three months to document any changes in behavior for risk reduction.
African-American Youth Outreach
This program offers HIV prevention education, HIV abstinence skill building, or HIV prevention education to African-American youth between the ages of 12 and 20. The Prevention Outreach Coordinator works with middle and high schools, alternative learning centers, youth centers, and juvenile detention centers.
Annual task force events include the AIDS Walk and Festival, World AIDS Day, International Candlelight Memorial, Teen AIDS Council Spring Prom Fashion Show, and other fund-raising and awareness events throughout the year. The Gay Lesbian Dinner Dance raises funds for the task force and is planned by an independent committee from the lesbian and gay community. The AIDS Task Force also serves as a resource for northeast Indiana media.
Volunteers working in committees plan and implement many of the activities of the AIDS Task Force. In addition to the board of directors, other important committees include the Teen AIDS Council, the Minority AIDS Committee, and the AIDS Walk and Festival steering committee. A Care Team program pairs small groups of volunteers from churches with clients and their families.