When Cindy* was diagnosed with HIV, she was in need of a support system to help her manage her physical health as well as her emotional. She came to Catholic Charities in 2012 and said the process has been “life changing.”
“I would be in a bad place if it wasn’t for Catholic Charities,” Cindy said, adding that Catholic Charities has helped her manage the times when she is feeling down.
She said that she can now cope with her emotions through the skills she’s learned through Catholic Charities and the support she’s gained from the staff and other clients that she has met and built friendships with.
“I always look forward to coming here for group,” she said.
Cindy shared that Catholic Charities has been there for her through very difficult times, including when she lost a loved one. She sees her group and others that have supported her along the way as her family.
“I know I can come here and talk and not have to worry about being judged,” she said.
In addition to the support group, Catholic Charities provides case management, a special food pantry designed for those living with HIV/AIDS, financial management, and access to health care and benefits.
“The office is an oasis for those affected by HIV,” said Maureen Murphy, Associate Vice President of Catholic Charities Family and Parish Support Services. “Sometimes it takes a while to adjust for people who are first diagnosed. We break down barriers and act as an anti-stigma group. Anyone affected and their family members can come to us.”
In 2007, Catholic Charities partnered with the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, which through a grant, provided a liaison at the Lake County Health Department’s Medical Management Clinic.
The liaison shares what Catholic Charities offers and puts a face to our services, essentially beginning our relationship with them.
“HIV was once a terminal illness, and now it’s a chronic illness,” said Program Director Alicia Kon. “Once they’re on medication, they can have a long, healthy life, so we’re there to help them with counseling and adjustment to the diagnosis. It’s about living longer, healthier lives with HIV, not dying from it.”
* Client name changed to protect privacy.