The Health Trust

The Health Trust is the largest provider of non-medical services to people living with HIV/AIDS in Santa Clara County.

As a nonprofit operating foundation, The Health Trust tackles health inequities using a multifaceted approach: providing direct services, making grants to community-based organizations, and advocating for policies and initiatives that advance its mission to build health equity in Silicon Valley. 

Within this mission, the goal of The Health Trust’s HIV/AIDS Services program is to serve Santa Clara County residents living with HIV/AIDS by ensuring access to all services needed to promote health, dignity, and quality of life – thereby preventing the spread of HIV. The program is designed to increase access to care, improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS, including those who are experiencing homelessness. 

For over 20 years, The Health Trust HIV/AIDS Services has provided prevention and complementary care, hot meals for clients who are homebound and receiving home health care services, nutrition services, housing search assistance and housing subsidies, nutritional planning with a Registered Dietitian, case management services and medical case management. This comprehensive continuum of care allows people living with HIV/AIDS to focus their attention and resources toward the health needs and care they require to achieve a greater quality of life. 

The AIDS Services program began in 1987 as the Visiting Nurse Association AIDS Project. It was one of the original pilot projects initiated by the State Office of AIDS to address the exploding HIV/AIDS epidemic and became part of The Health Trust upon the creation of the organization in January of 1996, becoming the first HIV/AIDS program in Santa Clara County. The Health Trust was led by Founding CEO, Gary Allen, the driving force behind the community planning process that identified the community’s greatest health needs, resulting in the organization’s original vision, mission, values, and funding principles. 

Since the program’s inception, The Health Trust has been the primary subcontractor of community based HIV/AIDS health and wellness services in Santa Clara County.

In November 2007, Fred Ferrer joined The Health Trust as CEO leading the way on HIV/AIDS prevention and striving to improve the overall health of the LGBTQ community for nearly a decade.

In 2008, The Health Trust implemented a jail services program to support individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are incarcerated in Santa Clara County jails with re-entry into the community. The Health Trust recently expanded the program in collaboration with Custody Health to be an opt-out testing program, offering HIV, HepC, HepB, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis testing. In addition to testing, the program provides case management and transition planning services to people living with HIV in adult custody facilities.

In February of 2011, The Health Trust consolidated its HIV/AIDS Services Nutrition, Meals on Wheels, and Family Resource Center food services programs into a single location named the “FOODBasket.” Located at 1043 Garland Avenue in San Jose, this facility has allowed for an innovative, streamlined food delivery service that improves access to healthier, more nutritious food for clients. On November 7, 2014, The Health Trust renamed the FOODBasket and dedicated it as the Jerry Larson FOODBasket to honor Jerry Larson, an unrelenting advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS with unparalleled years of volunteer service. Jerry spent his last two decades as an active leader in Santa Clara County in the battle against HIV/AIDS. During that time he spent over a decade on Santa Clara County’s HIV Planning Council for Prevention and Care, and since its inception, was a committed volunteer at the FOODBasket. Jerry Larson, passed away on September 30, 2014.

Also in 2011, The Health Trust produced the N2MEN website to help support healthy living for men who have sex with men in Silicon Valley. Its goal was to take a holistic approach to health that gave gay/bi/trans men the knowledge and competence to make decisions to have healthy sexual relationships and remain free of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. 

In 2016, The Health Trust partnered with the County of Santa Clara in its Getting to Zero campaign. Serving as the contracted backbone organization for the initiative, The Health Trust facilitates action, convenes partners, and administers mini-grants to the community in an effort to achieve Zero New HIV Infections, Zero HIV Stigma, and Zero Deaths from HIV/AIDS.

Today, under the leadership of Michele Lew, The Health Trust has served over 5,000 clients and remains the County’s largest non-medical AIDS Services program, continuing to be a model for the team approach to case management and services. 

Current HIV/AIDS-specific services provided through The Health Trust include:

  • Nutrition Services – The Health Trust HIV/AIDS Services’ Nutrition Program supports individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families with food assistance, nutrition education, and consultation under the direction of registered dietitians. At the FOODBasket facility, clients “shop” twice a month and choose from an array of fresh produce, dairy products, canned and packaged goods, and meat. Home-delivered groceries and prepared meals are available for clients who are unable to leave their homes.
  • Medical Case Management – The Health Trust team provides medical case management, including nursing and social work assessments, home environment assessments, development of specific and client-centered care plans, assistance managing medications, communicating with medical providers, negotiating complex systems (e.g., health insurance), and assisting with mental health and substance abuse treatment referral. This team also helps coordinate care appointments and assists clients with maintaining Ryan White certification and other benefits.
  • Non-Medical Case Management – The Health Trust’s non-medical case management team provides benefits navigation (Ryan White and other federal and state benefits), ADAP enrollment, support with appointment and transportation coordination, Ryan White dental services coordination, detailed biopsychosocial assessments and individualized care plans, assessments for food security and other immediate needs, and support with referrals to community resources.
  • Learning & Living Lounge – The Health Trust’s Learning & Living Lounge is a safe, friendly place for people living with HIV/AIDS to meet and learn from each other, staff, and local service providers. The Health Trust hosts various activities for clients at this facility, including a weekly support group (facilitated by an LCSW); a walking meditation group; the Lunch Bunch (offering free food, friendship, and guest speakers); and food demonstrations.
  • Emergency Financial Assistance – The Health Trust provides short-term, emergency financial assistance to clients who experience an unexpected financial burden, and are ineligible for or have exhausted all other resources for assistance.
  • Housing Assistance – Each year, The Health Trust provides housing subsidies through the Housing for Health Program for approximately 100 individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are low-income, plus dozens of family members who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Services include case management to assist in identifying, securing, and maintaining housing. Self-sufficiency services are available for clients who are ready to return to work or educational activities. In addition to this program, The Health Trust supports approximately 40 individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are chronically homeless through the Intensive Case Management (Care Coordination Project) housing program. The agency also administers a joint HOPWA-VAWA program with Next Door Solutions, providing self-sufficiency and housing services to individuals living with HIV who are fleeing domestic/intimate partner violence.
  • Home Care – Home care is available to medically eligible case management clients who require short term housekeeping or caregiver assistance due to temporary health conditions, or while awaiting approval for IHSS.
  • Medical Transportation Assistance – The Health Trust provides medical transportation assistance to help clients maintain consistent transportation for medical appointments, mental health appointments, benefits appointments, and accessing Ryan White-funded services. Resources include monthly bus passes, daily bus tokens, or taxi vouchers (when necessary).
  • FOCUS Project/Jail Linkage Program – Beginning in 2008, The Health Trust has implemented a jail services program to support individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are incarcerated in SCC jails with re-entry into the community. The Health Trust recently expanded the program in collaboration with Custody Health to be an opt-out testing program, offering HIV, HepC, HepB, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis testing. In addition to testing, the program provides case management and transition planning services to people living with HIV in adult custody facilities.
  • Positively Speaking – Positively Speaking is a community outreach program to “put a face on HIV” and provide younger students and adults an opportunity to learn from and engage with a member of the positive community. For over 10 years through public speaking sessions at middle school, high school, and college courses, Program Associate Robert Smart has told his personal experience living with HIV and answered questions from students.

The Health Trust also operates non-HIV/AIDS programs, such as Meals on Wheels, Health Insurance Enrollment, Chronic Disease Self-Management, and its subsidiary, Financial Administrative Support Services (FASS).
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