of the AIDS Coordinator's Office
In 1989, Mayor
Bradley created the City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator’s
Office (ACO) in the Community Development Department.
In 2000, the
City transferred the ACO into the Department on Disability. This
transfer was the first of its kind in the country. Doing so acknowledged
that as people living with HIV lived longer, they faced many of
the same challenges faced by people living with other long-term
disabilities. By combining the energies of people living with HIV
with those living with other long-term disabilities, the City recognized
that more effective policies and programs could be developed for
Angeles Adopts Comprehensive City AIDS Policy
In 1990, the
AIDS Coordinator’s Office spearheaded the development of a
comprehensive City AIDS Policy. The
purpose of the Policy was to serve as a blueprint for the City’s
multi-pronged effort to combat AIDS. To ensure that he achieved
this ambitious goal, former AIDS Coordinator Dave Johnson relied
heavily on community input, as well as the expertise of the City
Attorney’s Office and the City’s Medical Director. On
October 16, 1990, the Policy was adopted by the City Council.
The Policy quickly
became a national model because of its comprehensiveness. It outlined
the City’s own employment policy, suggested a role for the
City in AIDS prevention and the system of care, and pushed the City
to advocate for progressive legislation on the state and federal
The City quickly
began enacting the AIDS Policy by taking the following steps to
implement the workplace policies it proposed:
- The City
Attorney’s Office provided City department heads with special
high-level briefings on the their legal duties, the impact of
the epidemic on their workforce, and ways their departments could
better serve people living with HIV.
- Each department
head was asked to designate a departmental AIDS coordinator responsible
for ensuring that employees were trained in non-discrimination,
workplace safety, privacy and confidentiality principles, and
general HIV prevention education.
AIDS coordinators were then trained by the City Attorney’s
Office and the City’s Medical Director.
Accomplishments of the AIDS Coordinator’s Office
the City AIDS Coordinator’s Office has undertaken a number
of other actions to assist in local AIDS education and prevention
new cases of AIDS, the AIDS Coordinator’s Office focused
upon the spread of HIV through the sharing of dirty syringes by
injection drug users. This was supported by research in the early
1990s, documenting that syringe exchange programs slowed the spread
of HIV and did not contribute to an increase in drug abuse.1
Guided by these studies, in 1994 the City declared a local health
emergency and directed City departments to take all steps permitted
by law to ensure the availability and uninterrupted operation
of syringe exchange programs throughout the City.
here for more information on Syringe Exchange
The AIDS Coordinator’s
Office also commissioned the City’s own cutting-edge
studies to determine the prevention and service needs of populations
that are often overlooked or are unable to access HIV prevention
programs because of stigma and cultural norms about sexuality.
For example, past studies have evaluated:
- The relationship
between crystal methamphetamine use and HIV risk behavior among
gay and bisexual men.
- The incidence
of domestic violence against women living with HIV.
- Risk behaviors
of heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with other men or
to medication regimes by the homeless, substance abusers and/or
the severely mentally ill.
- The feasibility
of post-exposure prophylaxis for people with recent sexual or
intravenous drug use exposure to HIV.
- The effectiveness
of prevention messages aimed at women, particularly African-American
and outreach efforts to men who frequent bathhouses.
needs of people living with HIV.
- HIV risk behaviors, knowledge, attitudes and prevalence among gang members.
By the late 1990s, new medications had begun to dramatically improve
the health of many people living with HIV/AIDS. As a result, the
City began to examine the needs of people living with HIV who
wished to return to work. In 1997, Mayor Riordan convened a task
force chaired by the City AIDS Coordinator to explore ways to
persuade employers to hire people living with HIV, and to assist
job training programs in working with people with HIV/AIDS. The
Mayor’s Task Force also commissioned a major study of return-to-work
issues that was used by many regions of the country in setting
1992, the ACO has cooperated with the City Housing Department,
which distributes Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA)
dollars - federal funds for housing and supportive services
for low-income or homeless people living with HIV/AIDS and their
families. Programs supported by HOPWA dollars, which are distributed
countywide, include emergency funds for food and shelter, short-term
rental assistance, rental subsidies, and other services to support
independent living. This Program gives the City a significant
opportunity to improve the quality of life for people living with
The AIDS Coordinator’s
Office funded the purchase of the City of Los Angeles’ first
HIV/AIDS Mobile Education & Referral Unit, unveiled in July
UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, “Does HIV Syringe Exchange Work?” retrieved on September 2, 2003, from http://caps.ucsf.edu/.