By Amy Moser
Over 30 years ago, The Aliveness Project was born over potlucks and kitchen table conversations about AIDS, stigma, and survival. Refusing to be isolated from each other and loved ones, the HIV community intentionally created a physical space where anyone with HIV could access social support, food, and therapies that just might provide relief from the side effects of those early medications. Today The Aliveness Project stands strong as a thriving member-based community center in Minneapolis providing supportive services like case management, medical nutrition therapy, food shelf, and hot meals to people living with HIV, in addition to community-building and other activities to decrease isolation. As was true in the beginning, anyone living with HIV is eligible to apply for membership at no cost. In 2016, over 200 new faces entered our doors.
Today, thanks to the advancements in medications, we are seeing many people living with HIV successfully going on antivirals and maintaining an undetectable status. Many people are working and have strong social and familial networks. Many are living healthy, self-directed lives. But as was true in the early days, this is not always the case. In 2016, The Aliveness Project provided assistance to nearly 2,000 individuals living with HIV. That’s nearly one-quarter of Minnesota’s epidemic. Over 95 percent of those who use our services live on little-to-no income. Housing instability and food scarcity are real issues. Stigma still tears apart families and creates isolation. Mental health and chemical health challenges undercut regular access to health care. The HIV community, much like any community, is a mix of those with and without. The Aliveness Project is here for everyone.
I regularly have conversations with people living with HIV who are unsure of how they can engage with The Aliveness Project. “I don’t need to use a food shelf, so I am not a member.” Or “I come for a meal now and then to see my friends, but I always feel like I am taking from someone else who needs my spot.”
But for The Aliveness Project to be a healthy and viable organization, we need the entire HIV community at the table — now more than ever — as members, volunteers, and donors. One way to participate and support Aliveness is Meds4Life.
If you happen the be one of the fortunate people with qualifying health insurance and are taking your HIV medications, there is a way for you to give back and help, at no cost, with minimal effort.
Meds4Life is a program that allows you to give back to The Aliveness Project by purchasing your medications using qualifying insurance at participating pharmacies. Anyone living with HIV in Minnesota who is taking HIV medications and has qualifying insurance is eligible to participate. You simply contact us to qualify, enroll, and select your pharmacy. It’s that easy!
I think my favorite aspect of the Med4Life program is for every prescription that is refilled, a percentage goes to help someone who needs the help. It’s that easy! I would say, selfishly, my second favorite feature is the ease of the process. My scripts were transferred over seamlessly, the monthly distribution was set up, and it’s automatic and delivered by mail! No more schlepping to the pharmacy, waiting in line, having an issue, etc. The people at the pharmacy were so personable and helpful it actually made me mad that, for years, I had tortured myself refilling the “normal” way! Another great added benefit, which I do so appreciate, is the nutritional counseling Aliveness offers me as a program supporter. I can have a consultation in person or by phone whenever I want, and discuss some tips and tricks for balanced nutrition which help me live a healthier life with HIV. So, now I simply get to “live and let live.”
—Dennis, Meds4Life Supporter.
Meds4Life supporters are eligible for nutrition and wellness services like nutrition assessment and body composition analysis, coaching and goal-setting, and even food journal review and recipe analysis. They also get invitations to exclusive Meds4Life supporter events.
Simply by participating, Meds4Life supporters donate up to 40 percent of the cost of each HIV prescription to a constellation of supportive services and programs, positively impacting the wellbeing of Minnesota’s HIV community. By participating, you create additional resources for others who need it — as a member and a donor — a vital role in our HIV community.
To learn more or enroll, please contact Arissa Anderson, Nutrition & Wellness Programs Director at Arissa@aliveness.org or 612-822-7946, ext. 217.