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February 29, 2012

Changing to Better Serve the HIV Community

By: Caprice Brown, Director of Program Services

Since Food & Friends was founded in 1988, our primary goal has been to ensure we are meeting the needs of the Washington community. Starting with our original mission to provide meals to those living with HIV/AIDS, we’ve expanded to include services to children and adults facing cancer, the caregivers and dependents of clients, and individuals receiving hospice care. 

While serving these new populations, we have never forgotten the needs of those living with HIV and in 2012, we plan to better address the current needs of the HIV community by adjusting our eligibility requirements. These new requirements will more accurately reflect the needs of those who have been living with HIV for many years, including individuals who are aging with the disease.

In the past, our eligibility requirements for HIV clients were based primarily on their CD4 count – a measurement of the white blood cells (or T-Cells) that fight infection and are used to determine the strength of the immune system. While we will continue to track CD4 counts as a component of a client’s overall health, someone with HIV will no longer need to have a CD4 count within a specific range to be eligible for our services.

The removal of the CD4 count as a component of eligibility recognizes that with improvements in medicine, people are living longer with HIV/AIDS and, although they may have a higher CD4 count, they may be dealing with other HIV/AIDS-related illnesses which would necessitate their need for our services. So, instead of focusing on the CD4 count, we will consider the entire range of each client’s health and nutritional needs.

In order to receive services from Food & Friends you must be referred by one of our partners in the community. In the coming months, we will be reaching out to our referral partners to ensure they know about these changes so that we can continue to reach those most in need in our community.

This was a necessary change and we are happy to share the good news with the community. Your support throughout the years has made such growth possible.

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