Southern AIDS Coalition allocates $1 million for grants throughout South – Birmingham Business Journal

Southern AIDS Coalition allocates $1 million for grants throughout South – Birmingham Business Journal

A Birmingham-based nonprofit has handed out nearly $1 million so far in 2019 to help combat HIV-related stigma throughout the South. The Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) has awarded $665,000 to nine organizations through its Transformative Grant program as well as $283,778 to 12 organizations through its SPARK! Grant program.

Gender clinic aims to improve medical care for transgender patients in New Orleans |

It’s been over a decade since Malaysia Walker’s life started a new course.

At the time, Walker was living in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, as a gay man.

That’s what she was limited to, she said, “Back then, it was either gay or straight.”

She dressed masculine and grew out a mustache to try to fit in. But it didn’t feel right.

“I was uncomfortable trying to live up to those standards every single day,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was. But I knew I felt uncomfortable.”

Over time, Walker realized she was a transgender woman and began researching what that meant. Almost immediately, she found that one of the greatest barriers was accessing adequate medical care that catered to transgender patients.

“They didn’t know what medical care meant for trans people and, unless you did research, you didn’t know either,” Walker said in an interview at the CrescentCare clinic on Elysian Fields Avenue, where she now works as a retention specialist for transgender women who have fallen out of the healthcare system.

Transgender patients face huge challenges in Southern states where the number of medical providers trained to work with this patient group is limited, advocates say. In New Orleans, CrescentCare is on a short list of three health systems that have policies in place to provide equal access to healthcare for LGBT patients, employees and visitors. Transgender patients sometimes have to travel from neighboring states and rural areas of Louisiana to get medical care at the clinic in New Orleans.

“We don’t have the infrastructure in the South. We are shuffling around the nation looking for medical care,” said Camilla Marchena, 26, who works at CrescentCare connecting transgender women to the clinic.

Doctors who haven’t worked much with transgender patients might not be familiar with the side effects of medicines involved in hormone replacement therapy, or the complications they can have with other medications, Walker said.

Transgender patients may also avoid going to the doctor at all based on previous experiences. A year ago, The Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy research and advocacy organization, conducted a national survey that found discrimination in health care settings often discourages people who identify as LGBTQ from seeking medical care.

About 29 percent of transgender people surveyed said that a doctor or health provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity. Another 29 percent said they had experienced unwanted physical contact from a doctor or health care provider, including fondling, sexual assault or rape.

Under the Trump administration, this patient group has faced further setbacks, advocates say. In November, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHH) issued a final rule broadening religious exemptions in health care law and giving health providers and insurers the right to deny service to patients based on religious or moral grounds.

In October, The New York Times reported the DHH was rolling back a series of decisions by the Obama administration recognizing gender by what the person chose and not the sex they were assigned at birth. The agency said in a leaked memo obtained by the Times that government agencies had to have a uniform definition of gender determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

A lack of safe and inclusive medical care means that many transgender patients have to resort to buying their hormones online and off the black market, according to Sable Murphy, 27, a trans woman who receives care at CrescentCare.

Murphy says she is fortunate that her hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is covered by Medicaid. As soon as she was able to start with HRT, everything fell into place, she said

“The testosterone lowering, the estrogen increase, all of these things help me feel better, like a whole-rounded person,” she said. “People need to see us, they need to get comfortable with us, there is no other way around it.”

The gender clinic at CrescentCare opened about two years ago with a focus on providing healthcare specific to transgender patients. This includes monitoring of hormone levels and their side effects, but also providing comprehensive medical care from providers who know how to correctly address and identify their patients.

Tonya Smith, 36, also moved to New Orleans from Jackson, Miss., where she had started hormone replacement therapy. She said her doctors weren’t trans sensitive and the medication they gave her wasn’t working.

“They treated me pretty much like I was a science project or something,” she said. “It was one of the worst experiences of my life.”

Smith moved to New Orleans three years ago and during the first two years went to a different clinic in the city. It was rocky trying to find a provider she felt comfortable with, she said. One of her providers never gave her a wellness check while she was a patient at the clinic.

“He didn’t want to touch my body or look at certain parts of my body,” Smith said.

That was when her social worker suggested Smith look for alternatives, eventually connecting her to the gender clinic at CrescentCare.

“The resources they have here have really lifted me and just encouraged me. I’m in a good place,” she said.

Each year the Human Rights Campaign publishes an index of healthcare facilities around the U.S. that have policies and practices in place to be inclusive and provide equal care for LGBT patients, visitors and employees. Only three New Orleans facilities were included in the most recent list: CrescentCare, Ochsner Health System and the VA Southeast Louisiana Healthcare System.

This was the second year in a row the VA hospital was recognized for its care of LGBT patients. The facility provides mental health services, pre- and post-surgery care for transgender patients, and offers a transgender support group coordinated by a licensed clinical worker.

Dr. Brandy Panunti, an endocrinologist at Ochsner who works with transgender patients, said last year that the health system was focused on standardizing training for all employees and establishing non-discrimination policies. This includes establishing the correct coding when a provider has to order gender-specific exams (like a pelvic exam) so a patient isn’t denied insurance coverage because the exam does not match their preferred gender identity.

Some clinics still require trans patients to be in therapy and provide a letter from their therapist saying it’s OK for them to transition, whether they choose to start HRT or surgical sex reassignment, Marchena said. She started her transition at CrescentCare two and a half years ago.

“Here we use informed consent, meaning you’re aware of what you’re doing. That’s the way it should be,” she said. “I don’t need validation. This is not a mental health issue. I can make this decision for myself.”

Gender clinic at CrescentCare

Malaysia Walker describes her experiences having access to adequate medical care as a transgender woman.

Photo and article originally appeared on

CrescentCare’s Dr. Jason Halperin Plenary Speaker at 2018 Texas HIV-STD Conference

Dr. Halperin is a plenary speaker at the 2018 Texas HIV/STD conference.  He will be presenting CrescentCare’s innovative Rapid Start program—CrescentCare Start Initiative— designed to initiate HIV treatment on the day of diagnosis.

Louisiana is on the frontlines of the HIV epidemic and this intervention is nationally recognized as a model for linking patients into medical care, starting treatment and achieving viral suppression.  Early viral suppression is key to ending the HIV epidemic.  Once virally suppressed, people living with HIV can flourish with a life expectancy that is unchanged and can no longer transmit the virus.  Please click here for the presentation and for our standard operating procedure.

Over 150 patients in New Orleans have been started on life-saving therapy within 72 hours of diagnosis.

CrescentCare is committed to ending all stigma related to HIV.  We believe in a status neutral society where everyone is tested and if positive started on therapy immediately and if negative evaluated for PrEP – a medication that can prevent HIV.  Together, we can end this epidemic.



In 1981 the U.S. identified its first patient in what would become the AIDS epidemic. Today, people with access to testing, early intervention, and effective treatments can expect to live long, healthy lives. That was not true when Olympic diver Greg Louganis was diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980s.

October 27th @ 9am
Cafe Istanbul at 2372 St. Claude Ave.



CrescentCare’s Black Leadership Advisory Committee will be tabling at this year’s Black Birth Matters Conference! Black Birth Matters is a day-long biannual gathering dedicated to creating solutions at the intersections of birth justice, racial justice and mental health.

The event will feature a talk back with award winning journalist Linda Villarosa, author of New York Times Magazine cover story Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis as well as workshops, panel discussions, art and healing focused on addressing racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Deon Haywood, Founder of Women with a Vision will be the keynote speaker. This year’s conference is focused on addressing the role that mental health plays in advancing the human right to safe and respectful maternal and reproductive health care.

CrescentCare is committed to being a safe place for pre- and post-natal care for all expecting and new mothers and their children. We hope to see you at the conference!

Jeanne and Alexander Kaiser in their earlier and later years.
Jeanne and Alexander Kaiser in their earlier and later years.

NO/AIDS Task Force has received one of the largest individual donations from the Estate of Jeanne and Alexander Kaiser in honor of their son, Dr. Michael Kaiser. The Kaisers left over $130,000 to NO/AIDS Task Force. With the blessing of Dr. Mike and his sisters, the funds will be used for the Capital Campaign for the new CrescentCare health center currently under construction at 1631 Elysian Fields.

According to Noel Twilbeck, CEO of CrescentCare, the donation is one of the largest personal donations in the agency’s 35-year history and the largest donation to the Capital Campaign to date.

“The generosity of Jeanne and Al and the legacy of Dr. Mike’s work will continue on in our new home,” Twilbeck said. “We are ever grateful of the legacy he built in New Orleans. This kind of giving will have an impact for generations of people who seek care at CrescentCare. These genuine gifts of the heart enable us to better serve the community.”

Dr. Mike spent nearly 15 years working in the HIV/AIDS arena in New Orleans.. He was one of the founders of NO/AIDS in 1983 and served as our Medical Director until 1998 when he left New Orleans for Washington, DC where he accepted a position in the Ryan White Bureau.

Dr. Kaiser, a pediatrician and the medical director of Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, was also concerned about children and infected teens. Along with a colleague at Children’s Hospital, Dr. Kaiser in 1988 authored a proposal to HRSA to develop the Pediatric AIDS Program, now known as FACES. Children’s Hospital had begun to see children infected from birth and through blood transfusions. At that time only 12 children under 14 in Louisiana were diagnosed. He also oversaw the funding and development of the Resources for Adolescents Program (RAP), recognizing the need to prevent the transmission of HIV to youth in the New Orleans area.

His parents wanted to honor the legacy of the work their son had accomplished in New Orleans and they were fond of the agency their son helped create. As a result, they set up the Alexander and Jeanne C. Kaiser Irrevocable Charitable Remainder Unitrust, the first ever bequeathed to the agency.

“My parents were volunteers and believed in social justice and were always philanthropic with their time and money. As children of the depression, they were cautious and knew how to save and plan. As part of their estate planning, they wanted to support NO/AIDS, something that makes me very proud,” Dr. Kaiser said.

According to by placing an asset into a trust, the asset is removed from the estate, so no estate taxes will be due upon death. An immediate charitable tax deduction is given.for the value of the gift and no capital gains taxes are due. The trustee then sells the asset at full market value and re-invests the proceeds in income-producing assets. For the rest of your life, the trust pays you income. When you die, the remaining trust assets go the charity(ies) you have chosen.

“While the tax laws have changed since this trust was established in the 1990’s, this approach could still be an important strategy for some NO/AIDS supporters,” Dr. Kaiser added.   “My Mom, who passed last year at age 95, wrote an annual letter to Noel, apologizing for living so long. She knew, that the longer she lived, the value of the donation was shrinking as she was living off the income being generated. My Dad, who passed in 1999, would have reminded her that the donation was working exactly as he had planned…. supporting her living expenses, saving taxes, and supporting NO/AIDS.”

If you would like to find how to support the Capital Campaign or leave a lasting legacy to CrescentCare, please visit or call Director of Development, Rodney Thoulion at 504-821-2601, Ext.203.




CrescentCare Legal Services (Presenters: Jesse Lind, Esq. & Megan Coleman-Watkin, LCSW, MPH) presented a seminar on Understanding Social Security Disability on August 27, 2018 at East Baton Rouge Main Branch Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Baton Rouge, LA 70806. Topics included an introduction to Social Security Disability benefit types, eligibility screening, assisting clients with initial disability applications, assisting clients appeal who have been denied benefits, assistance CrescentCare can provide partner agencies throughout the process, and over payment issues.

We recently completed the construction and move of behavioral health and our substance treatment programs to the 3rd floor of 3308 Tulane Ave.

CrescentCare was awarded $60,134 from Delta Dental for dental equipment. The requested funds will be used to purchase X-ray equipment for the dental clinic at the new facility including the following: Intra Oral X-Ray, Digital Panoramic X-Ray, and DEXIS Platinum Digital X-Ray Sensor with software.

On August 13, 2018 we received notice of an award from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) that CrescentCare would receive a grant approved in the amount of $20,000. The Foundation’s mission is to Educate, Advocate and Support the sprits and hospitality industry.

CDC says spread of STDs at all time high

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is at an all time high. The CDC says there were nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in the U.S. last year. The agency adds those numbers surpassed the previous record in 2016.

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