AHP News

February 14, 2022

Art & Harm Reduction Group

Can art heal the spirit and the mind? AHP is excited to take clients on a journey of discovery by offering a creative arts support group that will combine art and harm reduction as a new healing approach.

The first Art and Harm Reduction group is already filled and has a waiting list! “This is a clear indication that our clients are excited to attend the group where they can come together to express themselves creatively in community,“ notes Substance Use Counselor Charlie Dunkin, LCSW, the founder of the group.

This inspiring new program has been a community effort from its inception to the writing of a grant from BAPHR (Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights), designing a curriculum and securing supplies through a gift certificate from Blick Art Supplies. Everyone is eager to see this new group come to life.

Narrative Therapy as a Foundation for Art Techniques
Art therapists can channel maladaptive or dangerous instincts into creative products that allow clients to communicate and work through difficult thoughts and complex emotions.

Art therapy can influence a range of human functioning, we find, including self-perception and interpersonal interactions. Even a 45-minute creative activity can change a person’s mental state.” American...

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June 15, 2021

If you’ve walked or driven by Alliance Health Project at 1930 Market Street, you may have noticed the new mural and paint colors on the building.

The UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP) has been providing HIV, mental health, and substance use services for 37 years. Founded as the AIDS Health Project during the height of the AIDS pandemic, the organization is one of the city’s queer-centered behavioral health providers. Located in the Department of Psychiatry at ZSFG, the Alliance Health Project is a stand-alone clinic funded by the City and County of San Francisco, State, and Federal contracts and grants.

The mural was commissioned in 2020 with the intention that it represent the collective values of the organization.  Staff collaborated on a list of guiding principles and ideals that define AHP to include in the vision for the plan.  The published Call for Submissions asked for a mural that said “lives are transformed here” and which aligned with AHP’s mission to “to support the health and wellness of the LGBTQ and HIV-affected community in constructing healthy and meaningful lives.”

After extensive outreach to local artists, AHP received fourteen proposals.  A volunteer jury of three art professionals - Daniele Wohl, Robert Melton, and Jennifer Ferris - narrowed the selections to four finalists.  They evaluated the proposals based on alignment with the requested themes and vision, technical ability, and overall design appeal.  The winning design was submitted by Seibot and featured their...

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May 12, 2021

Until March 2020, being a member of AHP’s Provider Training and Education (PTE) team meant travelling as many as 10 days out of every month.

“I have a lot of polyester in my wardrobe because; no wrinkles, easy clean, travels great, and I spill a lot of food,” said trainer Michelle Cataldo.

Then COVID-19 happened, and we were all told to stay home as much as possible and not gather in groups. Suddenly, the give and take that Michelle and her colleagues feel with their training participants—one of the most prized parts of their jobs—the energy in the room as participants learn from each other, as well as, from the trainers, was put on hold.

AHP has a small but mighty team. It consists of manager, Jen Shockey, logistics coordinator, Neffitiria Staton, and trainers and curriculum developers: Francisco Nanclares, Mary Salazar, Stephen Scott and Michelle Cataldo. Their team’s two main functions are to certify California HIV test counselors and conduct national in-person trainings on high impact HIV prevention interventions.

When COVID shutdowns occurred, this boisterous team of extraverts, who laugh a lot, bring home-cooked food to meetings while they talk and plan or work in each other’s cubicles, was suddenly told to stay home. Just like the rest of the world, they had to reinvent how they work. And just like the rest of the world, they learned that a two-hour Zoom meeting can feel like a 20-hour meeting. They started using Slack all the time and sending each other little gifts via Amazon because they missed being together. And they faced...

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April 26, 2021


Dear Friends,

AHP Now, our annual report, is live on our website! Reflecting on the 2019/2020 fiscal year reminds us of the tremendous capacity, grit, and devotion of our clients, staff, volunteers, supporters and donors.

Our story, like so many, has been one of recalibration of our priorities, and stretching ourselves in ways we never dreamed possible. It's meant coming together while being apart, and working to ensure our clients are cared for, while keeping them safe. We have watched each one of our team members, clients and staff, express phenomenal resilience. The racial justice uprising and reckoning of 2020 shook us into facing the ways we have been complacent in operating from a white supremacist framework. To address our long-standing bias within our organization, we have directed an ongoing anti-racism overhaul of our management, policies, procedures and programs. We are on a journey to become a more authentically welcoming and equitable organization.

This period has taught us so much about ourselves and the people getting care at AHP. We are all connected in this world and need one another to make things better. We are better because of you. 

Lori and Jim

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April 1, 2021
Xiaoming Hu, Angel Island Immigration Center

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant health disparities in the United States. Race and class are drivers of those disparities as so many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) folks work essential jobs in public service, health care, transportation, and food services that are not able to be performed at home. While I have had the privilege of working from home as a psychotherapist since March 2020, I am nevertheless horrified and outraged by the escalating anti-Asian rhetoric and acts of violence that culminated in the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16, 2021, where eight people were murdered, six of them were women of Asian descent.  

The Atlanta shootings did not just come out of the blue. Anti-Asian discrimination has a long-standing history in the US. Incidents of Anti-Asian hate have increased during the pandemic, and videos have surfaced of Asian Americans being subjected to hate and violence.  One man is sprayed with disinfectant on the New York subway; a family in a Northern California restaurant is endangered by verbal harassment; elderly Asian people in their 60s, 70s, 80s are violently attacked – tackled and kicked to the ground in New York, Oakland and San Francisco. One 75-year-old Oakland man of Chinese descent and one 84-year-old San Francisco man of Thai descent died of their  injuries. 

My feelings are clear about Atlanta. The shootings...

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February 18, 2021

Before you hook up, get a check up! AHP’s friendly LGBTQ+ Sexual Health Services (SHS) team is in the house and ready to talk with you about sex and testing for HIV and STDs.

There’s no question that COVID -19 adds new challenges to our dating, hook-up and sex lives, and tips for how to take care of yourself during COVID-19 can be found here and here. After you consider the risk of sexual activities, it’s time to talk with your partners about COVID-19--just like any other safer sex topics.

Our team members can help you evaluate what level of risk you are comfortable with and help you strategize how to talk about COVID-19 precautions with your sex partner(s). And, thanks to AHP’s new online SHS calendar, your next appointment is just a click away using our online scheduler, testing at Alliance Health Project is quick and convenient.

Make an Appointment Today!

HIV/HCV/STD services are available by appointment only and limited to Tuesday and Thursdays between 12-6; and Saturdays 9-3:30pm. All clients are asked COVID-19 related screening questions before entering the AHP Services Center.

Working With Our Friends to Keep You Safe

HIV/HCV/STD testing services were initially suspended in response to San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order. AHP formed several...

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July 17, 2020

It took years for Sophia Toh to find an organization whose mission she relates to and whose values align with hers. She joined AHP’s Community Advisory Board in 2017 and we are grateful for her thoughtful, unifying spirit.

Most recently, she was so impressed by AHP’s rapid switch to tele-health and essential in-person services for our LGBTQ and HIV-affected clients that her enthusiasm inspired other board members to join her in thanking each staff member with a gift. She wanted to the staff to know how much they are appreciated.

What drives a person to do service or engage in volunteerism and philanthropy? In Sophia’s case, her parents schooled her in the art of generosity. She remembers her first fundraiser at the age of seven, a school-initiated campaign. Sophia went to her Dad’s office to ask his colleagues to contribute, but first her Dad donated a very generous amount. He knew his colleagues would not want to be outdone so she managed to raise a record amount of funds for her school.

Ms. Toh credits her parents as clever teachers who demonstrated the value of giving. She describes them as exceptionally generous, for example, Asia is not a tipping culture yet her father always left tips. Her mother volunteers at church and in nursing homes and is continuously feeding people “she just keeps giving stuff a way,” Toh smiles as she thinks of her mom cooking giant meals to give the extra food away. She recalled being bribed by her mother with a whole box of chocolates to go to the dentist--on the...

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June 11, 2020

In 1991, when Dan Karasic, MD, arrived at the UCSF AIDS Health Project, now the Alliance Health Project, it was during the pinnacle of the AIDS epidemic. As a gay man who was watching the epidemic unfold, he set his sights on working in San Francisco and helping those suffering from psychiatric disorders as a result of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Karasic received his MD from Yale University and trained in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, before coming to San Francisco and working with patients with HIV/AIDS at Ward 86 at ZSFG, one of the nation’s first HIV clinics. He also worked on the designated AIDS unit, Ward 5A for more than a decade. It was while working at ZSFG that he began his lifelong interest in the care and equitable treatment of LGBTQ and, in particular, transgender patients.

Treating patients in the early years of the epidemic cemented Dr. Karasic’s innate sense of justice and activism. He participated in peer review groups that eventually led to the re-writing of the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) to de-pathologize gender dysphoria.

As a co-founder and co-leader of the Gender Team at the UCSF Alliance Health Project, Dr. Karasic has brought his deep knowledge and understanding of the trans community to AHP and has served as a mentor to the staff. He has also been the psychiatrist for the Transgender Life Care Program and the Dimensions Clinic for trans youth at Castro Mission Health Center for the last 17 years. His work to improve the...

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April 29, 2020

To kick-off the Alliance Health Project’s new Art at Home space, we offer this piece on the role of creativity in our lives and the gifts it can endow us with, written by Maxine Hamilton, one of our HIV test counselor volunteers. 

In these strange times, our desire for connection, escape, and exploration has been magnified to its fullest. If we are essential workers, we are working and risking our health to provide critical care and goods and services so the rest of us can stay at home. You may have been furloughed or laid off completely, or trying to adapt to working from home, alone, or crammed into a small space with, kids, roommates, partners, and/or extended family.

There is grief and fear in this time. Loss of plans, celebrations, weddings, graduations and saddest of all, funerals. Suddenly we are all, across the globe, “stuck” right where we are. To cope with the myriad of feelings that are present during this time, I often ponder what resources I can rely on, both internally and externally to help me handle this deeply uncomfortable and unwelcome reality? Along with staying active and maintaining elements of routine, I keep being called to create more — to paint, write, tinker with jigsaw puzzles, cook, dance, and learn to play an instrument. At this time, when opportunities for connection feel scarce, the urge to create is a way of connecting to ourselves, other artists, and the communities we were engaged with. Creativity offers each of us a path to feeling and expressing all the complexities of our lives, and everyone has been touched by...

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