Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, a public-interest law firm providing free legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic.
AIDS Law Project’s Messapotamia Lefae and Ronda Goldfein.
Who are you? My name is Messapotamia Lefae and I work as the administrative assistant to Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania (ALP).
When was AIDS Law Project founded? In 1988 to focus on AIDS-related discrimination cases. At that time, no laws protected people with HIV/AIDS from discrimination.
What services does ALP provide? Our office handles civil litigation matters over a wide range of practice areas, including AIDS-related discrimination, confidentiality, HIV testing policies, public benefits (including Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid, Medicare and welfare benefits), private health benefits and insurance coverage, housing advocacy, medical-related debt, wills, living wills and powers of attorney, and immigration. We educate the public about AIDS-related legal issues, train case management professionals to become better advocates for their HIV-positive clients, and we work at local, state and national levels to achieve fair laws and policies. Our senior lawyers have distinguished themselves such that policymakers, health care providers, and educators and other attorneys consult them for advice and technical assistance.
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POZ, the print and online magazine for people living with HIV/AIDS, just released its annual POZ 100 list, and three Philadelphians made the cut. According to POZ, the list is “made up of 100 HIV-positive unsung heroes from around the country who are committed to ending the epidemic. From people who volunteer for AIDS service organizations or work as policy advocates, to those who act as educators to promote prevention and treatment, the POZ 100 represents an incredibly diverse spectrum of people living with HIV who are making a difference on the front lines.” And the Philly honorees are:
Jaci Adams, the amazing trans activist and volunteer coordinator at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, who was also honored this year with the Mazzoni Center’s Activist Leader award. Here’s what POZ had to say about her: “Jaci Adams is a 55-year-old transgender woman who transformed her experiences as an abused and neglected child into empowering lessons and advocacy for the neglected and vulnerable. She has been a long-term volunteer with the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and helps coordinate volunteers and educate others on HIV and transgender awareness. Jaci served as a member of the Morris County Planning Committee and the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference Planning Committee. She is a founding member of the Temple University Community Advisory Board and founded the People with Hope Trans Conference in 2004. Jaci is currently battling Stage IV cancer. But that isn’t stopping her: She sold raffle tickets for an AIDS Law Project fundraiser to her chemotherapy treatment team.”
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