TAB: Near Record Amount Raised in 2018, Beneficiaries Win

TAB: Near Record Amount Raised in 2018, Beneficiaries Win

The Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) is pleased to announce that 2018 was one of the most successful fundraising years ever for the organization. To date, TAB has distributed $2.7 million dollars. TAB will now distribute $160,000 to nine beneficiary organizations in Colorado, Utah, and Africa. As a result of the generosity if its donors, TAB has also expanded its HIV testing program. And, as TAB enters its 26th year, the organization plans to keep up its promise to FIGHT, FUND, EDUCATE. Want to get involved? Visit for more information about how to donate and volunteer for the upcoming year.

Scene from 2018 TAB fashion show. Courtesy Gus Gusciora and TAB.

In our ever-changing political climate, TAB funds remain as important, perhaps more important than ever.

Unlike most HIV/AIDS money that originates from government programs or larger foundations, TAB funds are distributed to beneficiaries with “no strings attached.”

Beneficiary organizations are free to use these funds in whatever ways they deem necessary, such as filling in the many gaps that exist for specific client needs. That list often includes assistance with finances, housing, transportation, and nutrition needs; bus fare to and from doctor’s appointments; short-term housing solutions; and grocery cards. Filling in these gaps is key because if a client cannot get to a doctor’s appointment or eat the amount of food required for a specific HIV medication, all other efforts made to keep the client healthy may be for naught.

For example, a client of TAB’s primary (and original) beneficiary, the Western Colorado AIDS Project, had to stop seeing his HIV provider because he could not afford the medical bills.

“Utilizing unrestricted TAB funds, we were able to assist the client with his outstanding medical bills before the case was sent to collection and we got him re-engaged with his care providers,” explained Shannon Robinson, harm reduction specialist at WestCAP.

TAB provides funding to Colorado beneficiary organizations in support of three primary areas of focus: client care, education/prevention, and HIV testing.

Client care is vitally important because it keeps people living with HIV and AIDS healthy by routinely and safely taking their medications, having regular doctor visits and maintaining positive lifestyles.

Education and prevention are essential to impacting change in the HIV epidemic.

Reaching people before they have become infected empowers them to make safe choices, reducing the chances of transmission, as well as stigma around the disease.

“I don’t think there can ever be too many messages about AIDS. If you stop the education process, then people are going to think the problem is all over and done with,” said Sir Elton John in an interview with the LA Times.

Testing is an indispensable tool in fighting the epidemic for a variety of reasons.

When individuals are newly infected with HIV, they are at the highest risk of transmitting the virus due to the high viral load in their system. Hence, if people test early and often – large hurdles in and of themselves – and catch their HIV infection in the early stages, they are less likely to transmit the virus to others.

In addition, when people know their HIV, that creates a link to appropriate health care should they test positive.

Correct HIV medications can decrease viral load to an “undetectable” level, which then is considered un-transmittable – another key to decreasing the number of people contracting the virus.

Finally, easy access to HIV testing serves to decrease stigma around both the virus and testing, moving us closer to a stigma-free society.

In 2018, TAB expanded its testing scope by collaborating with the Uncompahgre Medical Center in Norwood, and continues its support of the Moab Free Clinic, the Red Ribbon Project in Vail, and the Telluride Medical Center.

TAB also added a select number of “one-off” events in Telluride to reach more people with free, rapid HIV tests. These events were successful, with WestCAP reporting that their testing numbers increase every time TAB hosts one of these events.

TAB’s focus on testing is a result of the organization acknowledging how important HIV awareness and testing access is, as well as grants received specifically to support testing throughout Colorado from the Colorado Grand Foundation, the Telluride Foundation and the Saul Zaentz Foundation.

As more people in Colorado and Utah have access to free HIV tests, transmission should decline rates and connection to care should continue to improve.

TAB beneficiaries include the Western Colorado AIDS Project in Grand Junction; Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program in Denver; Brother Jeff’s Community Health Initiative in Denver; The Collaborative Care Clinic at St. Mary’s in Grand Junction; The Red Ribbon Project in Vail; The Moab Free Health Clinic in Moab, Utah; The Ethiopian Family Fund in Addis Ababa; and the Manzini Youth Care in Manzini, Swaziland.

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