The Source LGBT+ Center secures $600K grant

Grant from California Department of Public Health to help in fight against HIV in local counties; funds spread out over next three years

The Source LGBT+ Center in Visalia and its HIV clinic team has received a $600,000 grant from the California Department of Public Health. The Source looks to use the grant to decrease HIV infections in Tulare, Kings and Fresno Counties.
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published June 12, 2024  • 
10:00 am

VISALIA – The Source LGBT+ Center in Visalia has announced that it will receive a $600,000 three-year grant from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The $600,000 award is part of the CDPH’s pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) initiation and retention initiative, which will award over $19 million in grants to 24 organizations across the state. The initiative is focused on increasing access to and utilization of PrEP and PEP among populations at highest risk for HIV. The grant funding period starts May 2024 and ends June 2027.

The funding from the grant will allow The Source LGBT+ Center to provide same-day comprehensive PrEP and PEP navigation services to members of LGBTQ+, gender non-conforming, Latinx, BIPOC and non-English speaking communities in Tulare, Kings and Fresno Counties. The project has three main objectives: to increase local PrEP/PEP providers, increase PrEP/PEP initiation/retention by removing the lack of transportation barrier and to provide comprehensive medical case management.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the CDPH,” said Brian Poth, Executive Director of The Source LGBT+ Center. “This will allow us to significantly expand our PrEP and PEP navigation services and ultimately help reduce the number of new HIV infections in our community.”

According to the CDPH, men who have sex with men and transgender women are at the highest risk for contracting HIV in California. PrEP and PEP are highly effective HIV prevention strategies that can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by up to 99% when taken as prescribed. 

Dean Jackson, the Director of HIV Services for The Source, has been with the organization since its founding in 2016. Jackson began as a volunteer leading an HIV support group and over the years has grown the HIV program. Jackson and his team wrote the grant proposal because of the difficulty they’ve seen with PrEP and PEP access. 

“This grant will allow us to change the systems that prevent people from accessing (PrEP/PEP) in our area by providing PrEP in our center and being able to be culturally competent in delivery of care,” Jackson said. “This is something we’ve wanted to do for years because the providers in our area are often unfamiliar with PrEP and PEP.” 

The grant will pay for staff and resources to create a PrEP navigation program and address barriers to access such as medication costs, transportation and stigma surrounding HIV prevention practices. Gwyn Reniers, current staff member with the The Source LGBT+ Center, will be the clinical manager when the grant goes into effect. Cory D. Jaques, MD will supervise as the volunteer Medical Director. Jaques also serves on the Board of Directors for The Source LGBT+ Center as the Board Chair.

“Now we will be able to evaluate clients at The Source, draw labs and determine if PrEP is an option for them,” Reniers said. “In addition, we will be providing transportation to those who need it and checking in with clients to make sure they are adhering to their medication regime. But I’m most excited that we will be offering LGBTQ+ culturally competent care in an area that needs it.” 

In addition to its HIV prevention services, The Source offers services to people living with HIV.

“The barriers to quality care that people living with HIV face every day are very real,” Reniers said. “We strive to make navigating these barriers as painless as possible by offering services such as no-cost case management, nutritional services, mental health referrals and enrollment into our pharmacy access program in addition to programs designed to pay for the treatment of HIV for our community members who are underinsured or uninsured.”

The Source LGBT+ Center has been providing LGBTQ+ services to Tulare and Kings Counties since 2016. The organization offers a range of programs and services including support groups, youth programming, counseling and advocacy. The Source also hosts several community events including monthly Rainbow Mixers, Pride Visalia, Rainbow Color Run and Drag Queen Bingo.

For more information about The Source LGBT+ Center and their services, you can visit their website at www.thesourcelgbt.org or email hiv@thesourcelgbt.org.

Mid Valley Times Staff