Utah AIDS Foundation programs to be benefited by the fund-raiser next Sunday at Tivoli Gallery include a food bank open to anyone who has tested HIV-positive, a recently initiated hot-meals delivery program, coordinated with LDS Hospital and the Salvation Army; a variety of counseling and referral services; an ongoing community education project used by the Junior League, Rotary Club, public schools, churches and health-care professionals, and legal services.
The foundation also coordinates care and services for other agencies and groups throughout the state that are providing assistance to HIV-positive individuals.Richard Nelson, who is shortly leaving his post with the UAF as associate director, said during a recent interview that the foundation's big concern during the next few months is preparing for when the third wave of HIV-positive cases surfaces in Utah's smaller towns and communities.
While Salt Lake City is better equipped to handle such incidents, Nelson said there has been no statewide planning on how small towns will eventually cope with the situation.
"Just two or three HIV cases could financially cripple a small hospital. Their social services infrastructures are not equipped for this," he said.
Nelson added that while some local, state and national funding has helped the foundation initially (including compassionate support from the Junior League, the Episcopal Church, individual donors and a one-time grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), 1991 will be a benchmark year for the UAF in addressing its ongoing financial needs.
"This is the year that Utah's businesses and charitable organizations will demonstrate their awareness and compassion with their support for the Utah AIDS Foundation," Nelson says.
One crisis being faced by the UAF is that while Utah has been labeled a "low incidence area" - because the statistics are based only on HIV-positive cases resulting from Utah tests - the actual need for services is increasing at a much faster rate due to the high number of AIDS-infected people moving here from outside the state.
Ben Barr is executive director of the Utah AIDS Foundation, with Robert Austin as the new associate director, replacing Nelson when he leaves.
The foundation sponsors a number of important programs. Don Austin, director of UAF's Client Services, and Thalie Oakes, a social worker, are involved with individual and group counseling. They're assisted by interns from the University of Utah and Westminster College.
The foundation also relies heavily on support from more than 400 volunteers who, collectively, donated some 35,000 hours of time during 1990.