In an era of increased competition for HIV funding, many AIDS service organizations are finding it necessary to cooperate, collaborate, and in some cases combine operations to ensure their longevity. Two of Houston’s most established entities, Legacy Community Health Services and The Center for AIDS (CFA), have now merged in order to provide HIV-positive Houstonians with a more complete continuum of care.
According to the CFA’s executive director Paul Simmons, “Strategically, the big concern for us is how to serve an increased number of people while minimizing our costs. The best way to accomplish this is to partner with another agency.”
The CFA was founded in 1995 by Joel Martinez, Chris Kerr, and Michael Peranteau. “During that time, several new drugs were being approved to treat HIV,” surviving founder Peranteau recalls. “Treatment paradigms were changing rapidly; the CFA and other treatment information centers around the country were created to serve a unique purpose: to connect patients and their physicians in a way that hadn’t been done before. It was historic, and a pivotal point in the history of the epidemic. Publications created by the CFA quickly established it as a place where innovative thinking about HIV disease was taking place. The CFA has been an important voice in the national dialogue regarding HIV treatments.”
“The work of the CFA will continue unabated,” according to Eric Roland, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications and a longtime Legacy employee. “Historically, our outreach has been focused on HIV testing and counseling. As our platform has expanded into additional medical services, we have worked to develop educational components that meet the needs of the communities in which our clinics are located.”
The CFA’s three staff members will relocate to Legacy’s new facility, providing a one-stop shop for patients. “Now everyone will have easier access to the additional expertise that the CFA’s medical and educational staff can provide,” Roland said. “Information will be available to newly diagnosed patients as well as those who are having to change their treatment regimens.”
In addition to treatment information, the CFA has a long history of producing excellent printed materials. Its flagship periodical, RITA!, is well respected by patients and physicians. “Legacy is committed to using technology to broaden will provide additional opportunities for grass-roots organizing by our consumers.”
As the two organizations integrate their programs, founder Peranteau is upbeat about the continued viability of the CFA. “The face of HIV treatment is still changing—currently there are many more medications for patients to choose from. There is still a crucial need for individuals to understand their options. This merger is a brilliant idea in that it enables the CFA to continue its valuable work.”