A new name, but a standing commitment to serve South Alabama.
Published: November 2, 2017
As it entered its 30th year of service, Montgomery AIDS Outreach, Inc., also known as Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, adopted a new name on January 1, 2017 – Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO). “The new name reflects our expansion of quality services to new healthcare issues facing rural Alabama,” heralded Michael Murphree, L.I.C.S.W., Chief Executive Officer. “The new name still represents the same mission driven quality care that MAO has always been known to provide. In anticipation of MAO turning 30, our Board, team members and volunteers observed just how much MAO has done, and will continue to do, that many in the communities served likely know nothing about. MAO provides direct clinical care as well as a menu of social services, community health education initiatives, and advocates for quality physical and behavioral healthcare. The MAO team does not just see health conditions, we see human beings in need.” The change in MAO’s moniker is intended to better mirror the scope of MAO’s services and delivery models. In addition to reaffirming its commitment to HIV/AIDS, MAO now routinely addresses needs derived from Hepatitis C, Diabetes, and Behavioral Health, and has evolved to be a recognized leader in the effort to address the inequalities of rural healthcare.
Since medical scientists first identified what would later be known as HIV in 1984, addressing the virus has been anything but simple. By its nature, much about HIV continues to be a moving target. Response efforts continue to require care providers to stay informed and adapt. With that said, and regardless of the stigma still observed, the prevalence of HIV has made the life-threatening illness not about statistical pockets, but a mainstream concern. An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. One in seven does not know they are infected. Still millions more remain untested. For MAO, evolving its umbrella to include services related to non-HIV-specific illnesses speaks to the pervasiveness of HIV and recognizes the commonality of multiple diagnoses. Among such common pairings are HIV, Hepatitis C and Diabetes. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), twenty-nine million people in the United States (9.3 percent) have Diabetes. A fact not lost on MAO team members is that people living with HIV are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. Furthermore, an estimated 3.2 million people in the United States are living with chronic Hepatitis C infection, don’t feel ill or even know they are infected. People living with HIV are at increased risk for viral Hepatitis and HIV can worsen Hepatitis C. Many of these illnesses share common care concerns as well. For MAO, not only have the care needs been informed by the diagnoses, but by environmental factors as well. Much of Central and Southern Alabama, as well as parts of the surrounding southern states, are extremely rural, often resulting in economic weakness and limited access to care providers. MAO’s integration of innovative new technologies, particularly telemedicine, is gaining the organization credit as a leader in the national efforts to remove barriers to quality rural physical and mental healthcare. Through MAO’s telemedicine network, Alabama e-Health, MAO provides care to patients at clinics throughout rural Alabama, putting care within reach for some of the state’s most vulnerable populations. Clinical care is either provided or disseminated from two hub locations, the Copland Care Clinic Montgomery and the Copland Care Clinic Dothan, as well as ten satellite clinics. In total, MAO provides direct HIV care and treatment to nearly 1,700 annually spanning 28 counties in addition to reaching nearly 4,500 at-risk individuals through testing and outreach initiatives. As impressive as these numbers are, totals still do not reflect those served in less official capacities nor the potentially thousands reached indirectly through web and social media.
During the 2017 anniversary year, MAO has expanded its services to include the Copeland Care Pharmacy, the MAO Dental Clinic, the MAO Wellness Center, and soon will be opening the doors of a third Copeland Care Clinic hub site in South Western Alabama. Each new division or service location adds to the comprehensive care MAO offers. Through the new Wellness Center, new PrEP, Hepatitis C, women’s health and LGBTQ+ services will begin to lay the foundation for serving not only people living with HIV, but people from other walks of life and potentially life-threatening conditions.
Learn more about MAO by visiting the History & Mission Page of this site.