By Steve Shlisky
No question, everyone is challenged by the COVID-19 virus. We have very real fears: of ongoing self isolation; of getting the virus; of economic insecurity; and of the always changing landscape of the pandemic. It seems to evolve by the hour.
During these uncertain times, Sacramento’s Capital City AIDS Fund (CCAF) is shoring up the community to help prevent a resurgence of HIV/AIDS, another pandemic that raged during the ’80s and ’90s. “We know the only way we will get through this new pandemic is by standing together,” says Joyce Mitchell, Sacramento Regional Vice President and National Trustee. “That’s how we fought HIV/AIDS.” Mitchell is president and co-founder of Sacramento’s Capital City AIDS Fund (CCAF), a three-million dollar nonprofit that’s been serving the community 25-years.
On a monthly basis, CCAF distributes 30-thousand free condoms to establishments where young people gather. Youth are especially high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
With social establishments now closed, people no longer have access to the free condoms for protection. “We had to come up with a way to help young people stay safe,” said Mitchell. “CCAF wants to ensure they protect themselves while staying at home. Once we get to a place where this COVID-19 virus is managed, we don’t want people to be haunted by an STD or HIV diagnosis.”
Therefore, CCAF is being innovative and teaming up with Abatin Wellness Center in Sacramento to give away free condoms. “Abatin is a wellness-based marijuana dispensary that focuses on health and we were welcomed with open arms,” said Mitchell.
“Talking this through, CCAF had to find another way to make condoms available,” said Ted Ross, president of Ross-Campbell, Inc., a TV director and two-time Emmy® Award recipient. He’s also a CCAF co-founder and board member. “It’s our mission, to help people stay safe through HIV/AIDS education and prevention. The lights went on and we approached Abatin. Given they are very health-focused, it’s turned into a great partnership.”
Ross and Mitchell have produced several documentaries about HIV/AIDS, one that received an Emmy® Award and another that was nominated. Mitchell emphasizes that during this challenging time we must all work together, continuing to isolate as recommended, using hand sanitizer, not touching your face and washing hands frequently. She said that when it comes to sexual health, condoms will help prevent HIV/AIDS and STDs.
COVID-19 can spread to people who are within about six-feet of a person who has the virus if that person coughs or sneezes. Kissing can easily pass COVID-19.
Anyone not feeling well should social distance from their partner. If COVID-19 symptoms develop including sore throat, fever and shortness of breath, call the doctor immediately.
Mitchell is focused on helping keep her community just a little bit safer. “A little prevention and education goes a long way as we fight together to stay healthy.”