The Epidemic | 12.14

Happy smiling portrait collage collection of multiracial group o

COMMON GROUND

HIV clinic serving uninsured and underinsured people on the Westside of Los Angeles.

 BY VICTOR MELAMED

Common Ground—the Westside HIV Community Center—was started in 1992 in response to the AIDS crisis.

Their mission, explains the programs current director, Arron Barba, was to “provide HIV prevention services and HIV services to people with AIDS in the Santa Monica Community. Common Ground created a large peer based HIV prevention program for Santa Monica High School, advocated and ushered in an HIV housing complex on the beach, introduced syringe exchange to the Westside of Los Angeles and has now become one of the few stand-alone AIDS service organizations to merge with a community clinic.”

In 2013, Venice Family Clinic acquired Common Ground.

The Clinic’s Board of Directors acknowledged the value in the social service support and the various wraparound services offered at Common Ground, and therefore approved the acquisition.

“The Common Ground program fights HIV and associated diseases by mobilizing the passion, support and expertise of our community through comprehensive healthcare, mental health services, education, testing and psychosocial support,” states Barba.

Currently serving uninsured and underinsured people on the Westside of Los Angeles, the program specializes in high risk, injection drug users, homeless, mentally ill and co-infected individuals.

“Our outreach provides HIV education to underserved communities regardless of labels for sexual orientation, gender or gender expression,” explains Barba. “The HIV prevention team, which is immersed in the harm reduction community, is able to engage clients in open discussions about HIV risks in a culturally competent manner. Our HIV medical services are provided within the larger context of medical services, which protects clients from forced disclosure. Our HIV prevention and treatment programs are also reinforced with psychosocial support for all of our clients.”

Additional services include health education and risk reduction programs for Latinas, STD and Hepatitis C testing, and medically assisted treatment for opiate addiction. n

For more info call 310-314-5480 or visit: commongroundhiv.org.