SANTA CLARA COUNTY
Entering the room with Heaven, the 5-year old yellow Labrador Retriever, who serves as his guide dog, Karl Vidt begins an evening where he will be a part of a group that makes decisions on how to allocate more than $2 million in funds for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.
The 57-year-old Vidt is a person living with HIV who chose to put his personal knowledge to work on behalf of others.
“People affected by HIV and AIDS know the most about what it is like to live with this disease,” said Vidt. “We’re in a unique position to contribute to the dialogue about priorities for services.”
Vidt joined the HIV Planning Council for Prevention and Care in 2002, after being encouraged by a friend to consider serving. He has been on the Council for 10 years and now serves as chair of the Planning and Resources Committee.
“Getting involved is a great way to shape how HIV/AIDS services are delivered in the county,” said Vidt. “If you have an interest in HIV prevention and care, a willingness to look at problems, and enjoy working collaboratively, this is an excellent way to contribute to the wellbeing of others.”
The HIV Health Services Planning Council was established on October 3, 1995 by the Board of Supervisors to qualify for federal HIV/AIDS funding, known as Ryan White Title I funds. In 2007, the Santa Clara County HIV Planning Council for Prevention and Care was established when two predecessor groups – one required by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the other required the by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services merged.
It is the goal of the HIV Planning Council for Prevention and Care that the work plan contributes to the health and wellbeing of all persons living with ,and at risk for, HIV/AIDS in the county.
“In an ideal world, we would like to put ourselves out of business,” Dena Dickinson, chair of the Council Development Committee. “But right now, HIV/AIDS is still a big problem in our communities, and our goal is to reach the people most at risk or affected. The more people involved in educating the community about rational, clear thinking, responsible behavior, the better our chances of achieving this goal.”
The County is currently seeking members to appoint to the HIV Planning Council for Prevention and Care. The 29 members of the Planning Council serve three-year terms. Meetings are held at every second Tuesday of the month, 6:00 p.m. at Park Alameda Health Facility, 976 Lenzen Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126 and are open to the public. Interested candidates are encouraged to attend one or two meetings to learn more about the work.
All of the Planning Council interviewees are encouraging young people to take on the challenge of serving the community. “We have all been performing this labor of love for awhile and we will continue to do so,” said Reed. “It is very gratifying work and we would love to see younger members of the community involved.”