AHP News

August 10, 2023

Transfeminine and non-binary colleagues talking in an officeAn LGBTQIA+ trauma care study proposed by the UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP) research team is one of six national studies to secure funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The study will compare the effectiveness of PTSD treatments within sexual and gender minority populations. The PCORI grant will support a five-year study.

High rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among LGBTQ+ people are a known fact. This is often accompanied by other mental health problems and experiences of unique risks such as discrimination and prejudice that may contribute to PTSD. The AHP study will be a long overdue look at which treatments are most helpful for PTSD in our communities. “LGBTQ+ populations tend to be very under-studied,” said Annesa Flentje, PhD, who will lead the study at AHP.

In addition to her work with AHP, Flentje is the Director of the UCSF Center for Sexual & Gender Minority Health and the UCSF Site Director of The PRIDE Study, the first large-scale, long-term national health study of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or another sexual or gender minority (LGBTQ+). The term sexual and gender minority (SGM) is used in clinical and research settings as an inclusive and consistent way to refer to our diverse communities. It describes individuals who are minorities related to their sexual orientation or gender, including but not limited to people who identify...

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June 20, 2023

Leadership Change at AHP

The UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP) is announcing the retirement of our Director, Lori Thoemmes. After beginning as a mental health crisis consultant in 1995, Thoemmes has been an impressive operational, clinical and community leader of AHP for the past 28 years. Under her capable guidance the organization has expanded its capacity to care for more people in need of mental health, substance use, and HIV-related care in San Francisco. Thoemmes guided the organization through its name and mission change in 2012 and AHP’s annual budget has nearly doubled under her leadership. As an organization dependent on government contracts and grants, she has also graciously interfaced with Federal, State and local leaders, building stellar relationship with our funders and community partners.

Director Thoemmes will leave a significant legacy as a tenacious and engaged doer. Her commitment to the LGBTQ community was honored with the UCSF Chancellor’s Award for LGBTQI Leadership in 2019. A consummate leader, a champion of accessible mental health care, and an unwavering advocate for creating a fair and equitable LGBTQ+ antiracist organization, she will be greatly missed.

While a national search to replace Thoemmes continues, Braulio García, LCSW has been appointed AHP’s new Deputy Director. García’s promotion reflects an expansion in the agency’s leadership structure including the creation of this new position responsible for clinical oversight. While the Director role remains vacant, Braulio will also hold the Interim Director...

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May 5, 2023
Interview with UCSF Associate Professor Annesa Flentje, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco in the School of Nursing, Community Health Systems, School of Medicine, and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Flentje is also the Associate Director and UCSF Site Director of The PRIDE Study and Associate Professor of Research at Alliance Health Project. The focus of the Pride Study is to determine how being LGBTQ+ is related to physical, mental, and social health. Similarly, in a study of sexual minority men living with HIV, her team provided a cognitive behavioral intervention to reduce the impact of minority stress such as discrimination. By collecting blood samples, Flentje found there were biological changes in gene expression related to immune function. This study suggests that interventions to address minority stress due to factors such as sexual orientation, gender expression, HIV status, race or ethnicity, homelessness, or socioeconomic status, may be applied to improve immune function and health outcomes. With The Pride Study, Flentje has also helped build an infrastructure to study LGBTQ+ health over time.
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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