When I accepted the role of CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, I made a promise: to listen.
Since then, I’ve done a lot of listening—to our directors, staff, clients, volunteers, partners, supporters and our community—and I’ve heard key themes.
First, change is all around us. Remarkable advances in prevention and care have finally put the end of the epidemic within our grasp. But to reach it we must think and act differently, more so in the next ten years than we have in the last thirty.
Second, economic turbulence means resources are scarce, and could get scarcer. We must not let that stop us. We must challenge ourselves to do more with less. To innovate new models. To identify new strategies for prevention and care, be bold and find the money to pursue them.
Third, collaboration is essential. If any city is poised to beat the U.S. epidemic, it’s San Francisco. Doing so requires that we combine the best from within all of us to create something even better. The “San Francisco Model” cannot remain static—it must evolve to meet the demands of today and anticipate the hurdles of tomorrow.
For these reasons and many others, I’m pleased to share with you that San Francisco AIDS Foundation and STOP AIDS Project are joining forces. As of November 1, the HIV prevention programs and services of STOP AIDS will become part of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The combination will align the best of both agencies, creating a seamless network of services and care for people at risk for and living with HIV in San Francisco.
STOP AIDS Project is a great organization, a valuable partner to San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and an important service provider in our community. Our agencies have worked together closely for more than a decade, and together we recently won a contract from the city to collaborate on the expansion of HIV services to black gay men in San Francisco. But even with all of our shared goals, it’s a decision none of us reached lightly. We arrived at this decision after months of thoughtful and cautious deliberation by both boards of directors.
Each of our organizations has a deep and rich history in our community. We have our own unique talents. We both have our own groups of loyal supporters, and even have our own detractors. But in the end we all agree: This is not about one organization or another. It’s about our community. It’s about our clients. It’s about people and populations that continue to be hard-hit by an epidemic that persists despite 30 years of fighting. And we cannot, and will not, let organizational pride or politics get in the way of doing what’s best for our community.
In the end, we agreed that this move provides an opportunity not only to sustain and strengthen important local services for prevention and care, but also to bring together a talented group of professionals to fight HIV in our community. Increased collaboration among tremendously smart people can only accelerate progress toward our goals of radically reducing new HIV infections, ensuring everyone knows their status, and making sure all people living with HIV get the care they need.
But this is just the beginning. I will not stop listening, and I want to hear from you. I want your input. I need you with us, now more than ever. Because San Francisco can be the first U.S. city to end the HIV epidemic. But we can only do it with your continued support.
For more information about today’s announcement, you can see the full press release.
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