AIDS Free Pittsburgh Receives 'Partnership of Distinction' Award

AIDS Free Pittsburgh Project Manager Julia Och (center) with the Partnerships of Distinction Award. She is joined by two JHF colleagues: Program Associate Ashley Chung, MPH (fourth from right), and JT Stoner, MPH (third from right), AIDS Free Pittsburgh Health Services Coordinator. Darren Whitfield, PhD, MSW, the Pitt professor who nominated AFP for the award, is holding the award with Ms. Och. Also shown, from left to right: Bethany Blackburn, MBA, division administrator at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; Alicia Romano, director of community health at Allies for Health + Wellbeing; Adrienne Walnoha, Social Artistry Consulting; David Givens, PhD, HIV Prevention & Care Project director at University of Pittsburgh; and Charlotte Mitchell, FOCUS project manager at AHN Center for Inclusion Health.

Collaboration is essential to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. AIDS Free Pittsburgh (AFP) has epitomized the collaborative approach across Allegheny County since 2015, building local partnerships to help communities work together to stop new cases of HIV/AIDS.

This successful effort is now being recognized by the University of Pittsburgh's Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement. AFP was one of five groups to receive the "Partnerships of Distinction" Award on March 29 in a ceremony at the Twentieth Century Club. JHF is the fiscal agent for AIDS Free Pittsburgh.

The award recognizes outstanding partnerships that are exemplars of community engagement. Awarded partnerships are ongoing, collaborative relationships between members of the University of Pittsburgh and external groups in which the activities of the partnership contribute to social and community development. 

AFP is led by a coalition of government agencies, healthcare institutions, and neighborhood organizations that collectively performs education, outreach, and advocacy work to reach AFP's 2020 goal: Eliminate new AIDS diagnoses in Allegheny County and reduce new HIV infections by 75%.

"AIDS Free Pittsburgh is fortunate to have many valued partners affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh who are committed to advancing the initiative's mission through community-based research and awareness campaigns," said Julia Och, the JHF staff member who is project manager for AIDS Free Pittsburgh. "We are grateful for the opportunity for our community and academic partners to be recognized for their collective efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Allegheny County."

Darren Whitfield, PhD, MSW, an assistant professor at Pitt's School of Social Work, nominated AFP for the award. "I believe the work of the collaborative and results in terms of HIV outcomes is a direct result of the collaborative's efforts and commitment towards reducing HIV infections and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV," said Dr. Whitfield, who is an AFP Advisory Group member. "I look forward to the work still yet to be accomplished."

Since AFP's work began in 2015, there has been a 30% reduction in new HIV cases and a 56% reduction in new AIDS cases in Allegheny County.

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