Our voices

Inspired. Committed. Hopeful.

In a letter to the community, our CEO Dr. Tyler TerMeer gives us a glimpse of what's to come in 2023.

Dear community, 

Three words come to mind as we enter a new year. 

We are inspired. We are committed. And we are hopeful

Guided by our community and our strategic plan, we begin this new year with a robust set of plans to build on our existing programs and services, speak out for the needs of our communities, and advance our vision for health justice for all. 

Here’s a glimpse of what’s to come in 2023. 

Health justice must include racial justice

We cannot achieve a vision of health justice for all without addressing the systems of oppression that create health disparities for our Black and brown communities–who may also be living with HIV, trans or non-binary, people who use drugs, immigrants, or people who are LGBTQ+. This year, we will continue to improve service access for priority communities through innovative programming such as THREADS, which engages trans and non-binary people who use drugs as secondary syringe exchangers; HUES, a new program by and for Black women and femmes; our health “promotores” who do outreach in Spanish with Latinx populations; and through our well-established Black Brothers Esteem (BBE) and Latinx Health programs. 

Stabilization with a focus on quality, in partnership 

Over the past year or so, we continue to rebound from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic–bringing the number of clients back to levels that were seen pre-pandemic. Now that we’ve stabilized our services (with many new telehealth options!), our focus will be on delivering the high-quality, deeply supportive services we are known for through our community programs (including TransLife, BBE, Latinx Health, and the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network) and through our clinical and health services (including Magnet, the Stonewall Project, and Syringe Access Services). We’re also deepening our collaborative relationships with other community-based organizations so that we can create new health access points to our services across the city.   

Harm reduction is love

Fatal overdose continues to be a concern in San Francisco (and across the nation), and there is much debate about how best to prevent overdose and provide assistance to people who use drugs. At SFAF, we know what’s needed–and we’re committed to prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all people who use drugs. This year, we hope to build on our existing harm reduction services with support from City and community partners, and reach specific communities–such as trans and non-binary individuals, Black and brown folx, and Spanish- and Mayan-speaking people–with tailored educational campaigns. We will continue to speak out and advocate for safe consumption services, for treatment on-demand, for expanded investments in harm reduction, and for the allocation of opioid settlement money to establish much-needed health and harm reduction services for people who use drugs. 

For us, by us

We know that excellent care and community support comes from those of us who’ve benefited from the services SFAF provides. With internship programs, health educator roles, and training programs, we’re helping to ensure that there are pathways for passionate people to learn the right skills and join our talented workforce. This year, we will re-launch our popular Clinical Assistant Program at our sexual health clinic Magnet, continue to support our peer ambassador “promotores” who assist clients in accessing our services, and recruit a new cohort of interns through our substance counseling program, Stonewall Project. We continue to be inspired by the new ideas and creative energy that people who come through our training programs bring to our organization and community. And, our Board Talent and Governance Committee is working on diversifying our Board of Directors, to ensure that our leaders reflect the people and populations served by SFAF.  

Advocating for long-term survivors, people living with HIV, and our other communities

Those of us living with HIV recognize and honor the hard-won progress we’ve made in ending the AIDS epidemic thanks to so many long-term survivors and allies. We are inspired by their courage in speaking up about injustices, their bold acts of activism, and their ability to advocate for the needs of our communities. Now, it is our responsibility to support and care for those growing older with HIV, ensuring that their needs are provided for with compassion and dignity. We are committed to not only ensuring that our community members are provided with needed health and social support services, but that their voices and priorities are lifted up as part of our advocacy group HAN and through other HIV advocacy efforts. As attacks on our communities continue across the country, we will continue to monitor the political landscape so that we are prepared to step up and advocate at the local, state, and federal levels for equity, justice, and our rights.

Thank you for being part of our health, support, and advocacy efforts. We look forward to seeing you in 2023. 

In service, 

Dr. Tyler TerMeer 

About the author

Tyler TerMeer, PhD

Dr. TerMeer is the CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation.