BANGOR, Maine – Down East AIDS Network and the Health Equity Alliance officially opened the doors of the Health Equity Center, their new office at 51 Broadway and 106 Pine St., on July 21.
Down East AIDS Network, a small, community-based nonprofit, for nearly three decades has sought to support those affected by HIV, as well as educate and inform the public to prevent the spread of the virus.
The agency began an extensive overhaul in 2013, including an expansion of the organization’s scope, a name change, and a new mission and vision. From this, Down East AIDS Network and the Health Equity Alliance was born.
“The new name reflects the organization’s dedication to its updated mission,” executive director Kenney Miller said. “We recognize that the same populations that are most impacted by HIV are also those disproportionately impacted by a host of other health disparities. The Health Equity Alliance is dedicated to empowering these communities to improve their health and well-being and affect social and cultural change to create a world in which health disparities are nonexistent.”
The Health Equity Center was made possible by the acquisition of the Eastern Maine AIDS Network, a program previously operated by Penobscot Community Health Center. Through the acquisition, the new organization hired the AIDS network’s three employees and extended its service area to include Washington, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Knox counties.
Services offered in all Down East AIDS Network and the Health Equity Alliance locations include HIV and hepatitis C testing and medical case management, safer sex education, as well as supplies and syringe exchange services.
Through the Maine Harm Reduction Alliance, the agency pushed for increased access to Naloxone, seeks and distributes funding to support syringe exchange programs and hepatitis C screening throughout Maine, and seeks to increase awareness around harm-reduction approaches to addiction issues. Through the Maine AIDS Education and Training Center, the organization will support opportunities for professional development and work to increase the capacity of the health care system to serve people living with HIV throughout the state.