Helping people learn to live with HIV
by Michael Lane
“We get hit with so much need for our services we can become stretched thin,” said Brett Hogan, HIV Prevention Coordinator at Positive Directions, Inc. (PDI) in Wichita. He thinks at those times, “Can we do it?”
PDI provides the community with HIV/AIDS prevention resources including education and free rapid HIV testing. However, they face challenges like any AIDS Service Organization.
“As economic and political situations fluctuate, are we going to be able to afford our services to continue forward? These are the issues that keep us up at night.”
At PDI, you can receive not only free HIV-rapid testing but also syphilis testing as an on-site blood-draw or mail-in test. The organization tests about 20 people per month, depending on the season and events.
PDI’s grant demographics are focused on both youth and the overall LGBT+ community. “We focus our outreach events on popular locations frequented. At this point we have been in several night clubs and on college campuses.”
They stock many clubs in Wichita with free standard condoms and lube, including Boomerang, Club XY, Rocky’s and The Store. They offer these items as well as free female condoms and dental dams at their downtown office.
“Many have asked how I deal with it,” said Brett Hogan about receiving results that one of his clients is HIV positive. “At first it would ruin my day, if not week.”
Hogan is one who agrees his feelings are a small price, compared to the individual that just found out they are HIV positive.
“But now I'm happy, simply because I just got that person into care. I was able to put them into the hands of a doctor that will help them learn how to live with the virus, instead of not knowing and potentially becoming very sick and even possibly passing it on to others.”
Hogan said one the greatest feelings he gets from the work he does is the increased knowledge and awareness of the population within their outreach.
“When I can be in public, not working and hear someone tell another about us, or see our logo and talk about what we do, it shows me that we are getting the word out and doing more than just educating a select few.
Currently, 100 percent of PDI’s funding is from grants, although they have several fundraisers such as the Wichita AIDS Walk and their upcoming Winter Gala, January 19.
“This is our first annual Winter Gala, titled Fire and Ice. In the past we had a large fundraising event known as Art Aid. Through our restructuring and focus that event was retired and we needed something new to serve as our anchor fundraiser. The Gala will be a new approach to the usual gala/black tie events. It will be more interactive, less sitting and listening to a ‘suit’ talk. Fun, is the best way to say it.”
Hogan said he was being “intentionally vague” to not give too much away about the Gala, but all proceeds will go directly into programs and development at PDI.
PDI is located on 416 S. Commerce Street, Suite 108, Wichita, Kansas. They offer free HIV and syphilis testing as well as condoms to the public. For more information, visit www.pdiks.com.
Copyright The Gayly – December 12, 2017 @ 7:35 a.m. CST.