This month Alan Jones celebrates 25 years at PATF, meet our new staff,
and read about PATF in the news
PATF e-Perspectives
Issue 60/ July 2016
Alan Jones celebrates 25 years at PATF!
Alan and Sam Moon, a former PATF case manger, in 1991
 
Alan Jones recalls telling his friends at a gay bar in 1982 that they'll never have to worry about news reports of "gay cancer." Two years later, his neighbor died of the disease, which by that time was understood to be AIDS. A few years after that, one of his best friends from college passed away. That's when he began to realize the magnitude of the epidemic and knew he needed to get involved.
 
Alan started volunteering at Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force in 1990 and was hired one year later. From the early days of the epidemic when AIDS was a death sentence to the development of effective treatment in the mid-1990s to new HIV prevention medication approved in the last few years, he has been at the center of Pittsburgh's fight against HIV/AIDS for 25 years.
 
Left: Former PATF employees Cathy Eller (left) and Mary Hawk (right) with Alan around 1996
Right: Jim Fisherkeller and Sharon Davis with Alan in 2001
 
When Alan first began at PATF, funding was scarce and he was responsible for 102 clients with AIDS, most of whom would die from the disease in the next three years. Some were friends, others he became close with as their case worker. In the early years, he clipped many of their obituaries, which he still keeps in an album at his desk, occasionally leafing through and recalling memories of each. He remembers two clients, each of whom kept his partner's ashes in a Tupperware container, knowing they'd suffer the same fate. "I can still see the ashes on the windowsill of their apartment," he recalls.

He also recalls the fear and misinformation so many people held about the disease. One mother of an HIV-positive man bleached the dishes each time he used them. Other families, he recalls "would leave food at the front door and wouldn't take it into their apartments, or wouldn't let their children see the relative that had HIV."

HIV/AIDS treatment dramatically changed in the mid-1990s when new cocktail medications were introduced. While some still passed away in the next couple of years -- it was too little too late, he remembers -- many others made miraculous recoveries and some are clients to this day.
 
In 2000, Alan moved from case work to HIV testing. Though no longer a death sentence, letting someone know they are HIV-positive remains a difficult task. One memory that sticks out is telling a 19-year old gay man that he was positive. He cried uncontrollably and asked if Alan could hug him. Alan also told his mother, who had called the man's cell phone after he learned the news.
 
It's extremely rare for someone to work at a social service organization for 25 years, especially in a role where they have witnessed so many clients pass away. Join us in thanking Alan for his 25 years of service! We're so fortunate for his dedication and passion.
 
Last week, Alan spoke with Essential Pittsburgh on WESA about his experiences at PATF and you can listen to the interview here.
 
Find more throwback pictures of Alan on our Facebook page here, and keep an eye out for new photos as we celebrate him all month long!

Meet the newest additions to the PATF team
Anitra Branch, Community Relations Manager
 
Anitra, a member of the PATF team for the last seven years, began her new role as Community Relations Manager, overseeing PATF's current outreach programs and developing new initiatives to reach populations at high risk of HIV infection. An honors graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she completed two AmeriCorp programs and has previously served as the Girlfriends Outreach Liaison, Rural Case Manager and Intake Case Manager at PATF.
Skyla Bre Hartman, Rural Medical Case Manager
 
Skyla serves as Medical Case Manager for clients in Butler, Beaver, Washington and Greene counties. She previously worked as a family therapist at Kids Count, a residential treatment facility for youth, as well as at NHS Russellton, a long-term structured residence for individuals suffering from severe mental illness. She holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh.
David Shannon, Agency Case Manager
 
David is responsible for PATF office coverage, responding to walk-in requests and urgent client needs. A recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's Master of Social Work program, David has interned at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh and the Children's Clinic in Oakland.
Ellen Varner, Medical Case Manager
 
Ellen serves clients residing in Allegheny county. She studied Psychology at Susquehanna University and has a Master of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining PATF, Ellen held an internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs in a residential treatment program for veterans with mental illness.
PATF in the news
Ball on the Bridge highlights ball culture and the need for improved health-care services for Pittsburgh's LGBT community 
 
After being part of an underground, late-night scene in Pittsburgh's LGBT community for decades, ball culture made its free outdoor debut at the Ball on the Bridge event on June 18. And while the Ball on the Bridge is meant to bring ball culture to the public, it's also a way to highlight the need for adequate health-care services for the LGBT community.
 
Jason Herring, program director of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, agrees that better communication is needed between health-care providers and the LGBT community. He says stigma concerning LGBT individuals requesting and receiving treatment remain. Herring adds that such stigma is further compounded for queer and trans people of color.
 
Herring says stigma contribute to these figures and that improved communication between doctors and LGBT patients could go a long way. "We need to tell everyone to ask for what they need, and inform doctors how to properly respond," he says.

Read the full story from Pittsburgh City Paper here.
Join the conversation on social media with us!
Help us spread the news that Butterjoint ( @theButterjoint) will be holding a fundraiser for #PATF on July 12 from 4:30pm to midnight! All cash-tips and sales from bar specials will be donated to supporting our continued services for HIV-positive individuals and to our fight against the spread of the infection.
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force  | 412-345-7456 |  patfinfo@patf.org | patf.org

Questions or comments about e-Perspectives? Please contact editor Andrew Ptaschinski at aptashinski@patf.org .