Programs and Services
Montgomery AIDS Outreach, Inc. (MAO) is a private, non-profit, Community Based AIDS Service Organization that was established in 1987. In 1994, after being awarded Ryan White Care Act Part C funds, MAO transitioned from a volunteer education and service organization to a full-time, health care facility. Today, MAO operates the Copeland Care Clinic, which is the largest HIV-specific health care facility, both in numbers served and geographic area, within the state of Alabama. MAO also provides an array of comprehensive services and care for persons living with HIV/AIDS These services include: medication assistance, pharmacist consultations, housing services, an on-site food pantry, mental health counseling/case management, patient education, prevention education, HIV testing, and interpretation services for Spanish-speaking individuals (through MAO’s full-time Hispanic Outreach Worker) and the hearing impaired.
MAO operates two permanent health care facilities (Montgomery and Dothan) and 5 rural health care clinics (Dallas, Lee, Pike, Butler and Barbour Counties). Each of MAO’s rural health care clinics operate out of partnering medical facilities or FQHCs that already exists within that particular county. When combined, the existing clinics cover 26 counties throughout Central and South Alabama with a total population of 1,107,445 within the boundaries of 18,675 square miles; encompassing nearly 1/3 of Alabama’s geography and 1/4 of its population. Many of these counties are extremely rural, medically underserved or located in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Individuals residing in these areas have no public transportation, little or no access to healthcare and tend to live at or below poverty level.
MAO and Auburn University collaborate to provide an in-house pharmacist. In addition to having Dr. Hester, a PharmD, available three days each week to provide medication education, doctoral students of pharmacy rotate through the program to assist. It is the goal of MAO that all consumers beginning or changing medication regimens meet with the pharmacist.
Women and Children’s Programs
HIV infections continue to increase at an alarming rate in women, especially women of color and childbearing age. The agency collaborates with the Ryan White Part D Program for Women and Children located at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham and the satellite location in Montgomery. The Birmingham location provides primary care to HIV positive infants and the Montgomery site follows the exposed infants who reside in this area. Services provided at MAO to women include: gynecological care; mammography; women-only support services; assistance with transportation and education programs addressing HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, teen age pregnancy and domestic violence. Programs are also available to assist with permanency planning and parenting skills.
Each consumer is assigned a social worker that manages the consumer throughout the relationship to the agency. Social workers complete psychosocial assessments at intake updating the case plan as needed or on an annual basis. Social workers assess each consumer regarding entitlement programs for referral including, Social Security Disability, SSI, Veteran’s Benefits or Vocational Rehabilitation. Community referrals are made when appropriate, Social workers assist consumers with accessing medications through the Alabama AIDS Drug Assistance program, Medicare Part D or patient assistance programs of the pharmaceutical companies, referrals to specialty medical care, housing assistance programs and substance abuse treatment programs. Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) provides emergency housing for individuals who have an emergency situation which might result in homelessness. Short term HOPWA assistance is available for emergency only typically lasting no more than three months per calendar year. MAO also provides HOPWA services to the consumers at the Family Clinic in Montgomery. All of MAO’s case managers hold a degree in Social Work and are licensed by the State of Alabama.
HIV Testing and Counseling
Free HIV testing and counseling are available for at-risk individuals as well as the general public. Pre and post-test counseling and HIV related education are provided for those who present for HIV testing at all clinic locations, as well as area substance abuse treatment centers.
In addition to the standard blood drawn HIV testing methods, MAO uses two alternative testing options. The OraSure test is an oral testing method involving a swab that draws enzymes from the cheek/gum area of the mouth. OraSure tests include a Western Blot confirmatory process. OraQuick is a rapid test considered as screening test. It can be administered both orally and by finger prick, and provides preliminary results in 20 minutes. All positive OraQuick results must be confirmed by a Western Blot. These alternatives have increased the numbers of individuals requesting HIV tests, especially younger people who prefer to avoid needle sticks.
Prevention Education and Outreach
A variety of education programs are implemented throughout the region. The HIV Prevention Education Department provides vital prevention education information in youth detention facilities, public housing facilities, substance abuse treatment centers, service organizations, schools and faith based organizations. The education programs developed by MAO are recognized as innovative and have been replicated in several areas throughout the state, particularly those targeting young people. The programs are designed to be audience specific to meet the needs of a variety of people from diverse segments of the community. Three (4) full-time HIV Outreach Educators are located in the Montgomery regional office and one (1) full-time based in the Dothan regional office.
Outreach Programs are provided by two primary positions: The Hispanic Outreach Worker and the Alabama Rural AIDS Project (ARAP) Worker. The Hispanic Outreach Worker travels throughout the service area to provide HIV education to the growing Latino/Hispanic population. In addition, this employee is also trained to provide medical translation services to Spanish speaking consumers.
The ARAP position is funded through HUD grants monitored by AIDS Alabama. The ARAP worker focuses his work on those at risk for homelessness and linking individuals living with HIV to services.
Mental Health Services
Mental Health counseling services are provided through in-house telemedicine appointments at Montgomery, Selma, and Dothan clinic locations.
The MAO Food Pantry is an initiative sponsored by the Junior League of Montgomery. Food pantry services are provided in the form of monthly food packages that are available for pick-up at both permanent locations (Montgomery and Dothan), telemedicine sites (Selma and Clayton) and rural clinics (Greenville and Troy). The food packages contain non-perishables and fresh food items when available.