In 1989, Mayor Tom Bradley established the City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator’s Office (ACO) in the Community Development Department.
In 1990, the ACO spearheaded the development of a comprehensive City AIDS Policy. The purpose of the policy was to serve as a blueprint for the City’s multi-pronged effort to combat AIDS. To ensure that he achieved this ambitious goal, former AIDS Coordinator Dave Johnson relied heavily on community input, as well as expertise from the City Attorney’s Office and the City’s Medical Director. On October 16, 1990 the AIDS policy Council File No. 85-0869-S19 was adopted by the City Council. Mayor Tom Bradley approved the City AIDS policy on October 22, 1990.
The City quickly began enacting the AIDS Policy by taking the following steps to implement the workplace policies it proposed:
- The City Attorney’s Office briefed City department heads on their legal duties, the epidemic AND its impact on the workforce and ways their departments could better serve people living with HIV.
- Each department head was asked to designate a departmental AIDS Coordinator responsible for ensuring that employees were trained on anti-discrimination, workplace safety and confidentiality principles, and general HIV prevention education.
- Inter-departmental AIDS Coordinators were then trained by the City Attorney’s Office and the City’s Medical Director.
The policy quickly became a national model for its comprehensiveness. It outlined the City’s own employment policy, suggested a role for the City in AIDS prevention and the system of care, and pushed the City to advocate for progressive legislation on the state and federal levels.
Since December 1992, the ACO has cooperated with the City Housing Department, which distributes Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS dollars – federal funds for housing and supportive services for low-income or homeless people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
By the late 1990’s new medications had begun to dramatically improve the health of many people living with HIV/AIDS. As a result, the City began to examine the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS who wished to return to work. In 1997, Mayor Richard Riordan convened a taskforce chaired by the City AIDS Coordinator to explore ways to persuade employers to hire people living with HIV and to assist job-training programs in working with people living with HIV/AIDS. The Mayor’s taskforce also commissioned a study of return to work issues that was used by many regions of the country in setting their own return to work policies.
In 2000, the City transferred the ACO into the Department on Disability. The transfer was the first of its kind in the country, acknowledging that people living with HIV lived longer and faced many of the same challenges faced by people living with other long-term disabilities. By combining the energies of people living with HIV with other disabilities, the City recognized that more effective policies and programs could be developed for all.
On December 1, 2006 in conjunction with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the ACO launched the City’s HIV Testing Initiative in an effort to reduce stigma associated with taking an HIV test and to raise awareness of the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and finding appropriate care if one is HIV positive.
The AIDS Coordinator’s Office if committed to developing and supporting programs and policies that prevent the transmission and acquisition of HIV and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS in the City of Los Angeles.
What We Do:
The ACO develops and manages contracts with community-based organizations to provide AIDS education and prevention services, focusing efforts on populations and areas highest impacted by the epidemic. Activities include HIV Testing, Outreach, Health Education and Risk Reduction and Syringe Collection and Disposal services. The ACO also works on AIDS policy and planning activities, advising the mayor and city council on issues related to HIV/AIDS; administer a technical assistance and capacity building program that assists local community based organization with resources to help improve agency’s capacity to deliver services; and provides funding and expertise for innovative research into HIV/AIDS risk behaviors, prevention techniques and technology.
An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV, including about 161,800 people who are unaware of their status. Nearly 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who don’t know they have the virus. For people with undiagnosed HIV, testing is the first step in maintaining a healthy life and preventing HIV transmission.
CDC’s Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings advises routine HIV screening of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health care settings in the United States. The recommendations also call for reducing barriers to HIV testing. In April 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued similar guidance.
CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. For those at higher risk, CDC recommends getting tested at least once a year.
Data from a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health show a clear personal health advantage to being diagnosed with HIV early and starting treatment right away. This information further highlights the importance of routine HIV testing and its potential impact on better health outcomes.
CDC's Updated HIV Testing Recommendations:
USPSTF 2019 Recommendations:
Click on individual PSA video below or go to YouTube link: PSA Video: Get Tested.
Los Angeles has an estimated population of 3.9 million people in an area of approximately 470 square miles with a rich diversity of culture and racial/ethnic backgrounds. There are close to 30,000 individuals living with HIV and AIDS in the city of Los Angeles, of those about 90% are men and 10% are women. In 2018, approximately 870 individuals tested newly positive in the City. Black and Latino gay and bisexual men under the age of 29 who have some of the highest new infection rates. Latinos account for 44% of individuals living with HIV or AIDS in the City, followed by people who are White at 27%, Black at 22%, and Asian/Pacific Islander at 4%. The AIDS Coordinator’s Office’s efforts have led to a 50% reduction of HIV among people who inject drugs by locally championing the development and expansion of syringe exchange services; successfully endorsed and advocated for routine HIV testing; and conducted some of the first research and advocacy for Post Exposure and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. To address HIV disparities, issue areas that the ACO continues to fund include Economic Empowerment for the Transgender Community, Sex Workers and Sex Trafficking, Transmasculine Health, Incarcerated populations and people experiencing homelessness.
Juliana Soto: Juliana assists in the daily operations of the AIDS Coordinator's Office and the Department on Disability including clerical, administrative and financial responsibilities.
Peter Soto: Peter assists with the HIV and disability related policy issues and special projects.
Dahlia Ferlito: Dahlia leads the ACO's prevention efforts, special events and community engagement efforts.
Gina Lombardo: Gina has worked in the AIDS Coordinator’s Office since 2007. Gina supervises all contracts and projects within the office, interacts with community-based organizations and oversees special projects.
Ricky Rosales: Ricky has worked in the AIDS Coordinator’s Office since 2004 and was appointed as the City AIDS Coordinator in 2012. Ricky leads the City’s policy and programmatic efforts to stem the spread of HIV and Hepatitis in Los Angeles and represents the City on local, state and national bodies.