Issue 2: Volume 1b: MAO IN SIGHT is the community and supporter newsletter of Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit health care and health education organization. IN SIGHT was first concieved by MAO’s founders more than 30 years ago.

Issue 2: Volume 1b: MAO IN SIGHT is the community and supporter newsletter of Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit health care and health education organization. IN SIGHT was first concieved by MAO’s founders more than 30 years ago.


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a publication of Medical Advocacy & Outreach (MAO)

Winter 2019/2020


Issue 2, Volume 1b - December 2019

Compassion, care, education,

and innovation for

more than 30 years

Heath, wellness, and HIV, Hepatitis C, and

diabetes prevention education

Speciality medical and behavioral care, including

pharmacy and dental services, and counseling

Social services, case management, insurance,

food, transportation, and housing assistance

Professional development programs that build

human capacity to save lives

Provider assisted telemedicine integration

(Center) Lydia Chatmon, HIV Prevention Specialist for Selma AIR, sharing the

results from Selma AIR’s participation in MAO’s Take Back, Educate, Inundate

Initiative at the 2019 Fall Behavioral Health Conference, hosted by MAO

Behavioral Health, and supported, in part, by AmerisourceBergen Foundation.

“CDC director praises Alabama HIV clinic ahead of

campaign” - Associated Press

In June 2019, Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) was chosen as an

example of model rural specialty care in the field of HIV and welcomed

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC), for a tour of MAO’s Montgomery facilities. Dr. Redfield’s

visit marked the first time a CDC Director visited Alabama.





2019 presented MAO with much recognition. Many

of these special moments drew attention from

the public as well as regional, state, and national

media. One such recognition came in the form of an

unprecedented visit by the current Director of the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr.

Robert Redfield, to Medical Advocacy and Outreach

(MAO) on Friday, June 14, 2019. For all Alabamians,

this was a historical first visit by a CDC Director to the

State of Alabama. For MAO, it was a great honor to be

chosen as the rural health and HIV care provider to

be exemplified to such a recognized national health

leader. While visiting Alabama, Dr. Redfield was

provided a guided tour of MAO’s Copeland Care Clinic

in Montgomery by resident providers, as well as a

lunchtime question and answer session in the MAO

Learning Center.

During his tour of the Clinic, Dr. Redfield was given a

practical demonstration of telemedicine technology.

Continued on page 11.

A message from MAO


Ashley M. Tarrant, MPH

Chief Operation Officer

“We have become not a melting pot, but

a beautiful mosaic. Different people,

different beliefs, different yearnings,

different hopes, different dreams.”

-President Jimmy Carter

Alabama communities, particularly

those in the 28 southern counties

served by Medical Advocacy and

Outreach (MAO), are diverse. The social,

cultural, faith and economic factors

vary significantly. Each person requires

individual consideration, particularly when it comes to their health

and helping them find the path that works best for them. For some,

transportation, housing, or even low co-pays are major obstacles. For

others, comorbidities, or the simultaneous presence of two chronic

diseases or conditions, make situations complicated. Consider the

possible routine needs of someone like you. Now, consider adding

the needs of someone living with HIV, Hepatitis C, and/or diabetes to

that picture. Of course, stigma, particularly self-imposed and social

stigma, can be the real potential killer. MAO applies the accumulated

knowledge and experience of its professional team, a commitment to

innovation and partnerships, and a respect for those receiving services

to address all of these concerns. MAO’s reputation for innovation and

service has opened doors to make sure there is a rural voice at the

table at the state and national levels where plans are being developed

to improve care models and End the HIV/AIDS Epidemic.

On behalf of MAO’s Board of Directors, its Chief Executive Officer,

Michael Murphree, our staff, and volunteers, may you find the

information in this issue of MAO IN SIGHT informative and inspiring.

As always, please take a moment to consider how you might get more


Everything that we have been able to do since 1987 has been a direct

result of public support. Your support helps us continue to save lives

every day. THANK YOU!



Michael Murphree, LICSW

Chief Executive Officer

Ashley M. Tarrant, MPH

Chief Operation Officer

Tina Bush, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Laurie Dill, MD, AAHIVS

Medical Director

DaQuentin Davis, MS, HRM

Director of Human Resources

Rozetta Roberts, MSN, RN

Clinical Director

Bretia A. Gordon, Ed.D., MPA

Director of Capacity Building

Jamil Dawson, MBA

Director of Support Services

Alftan D. Dyson-Long, PharmD,


Director of Pharmacy Services

Elana M. Parker Merriweather,


Director of Behavioral Health

Carl Shamburger, Jr., DMD

Dominique Askew Shamburger, DDS

Co-Directors of Dental Services

Billy Sample

Telehealth Resource Center Program


Ashley F. Boaz, MBA, MHA, CMPE

Clinical Practice Manager

Pamela D. Holton

Regional Coordinator (Wiregrass Area and

Southwest Alabama)

MAO IN SIGHT is the community and supporter newsletter of

Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit

health care and health education organization. IN SIGHT was

first concieved by MAO’s founders more than 30 years ago.

First published in the Fall of 1987, IN SIGHT originally

provided updates about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and

activities for Alabama’s River Region. Private donations

made it possible for IN SIGHT to be published quarterly for

nearly 20 years. Although economics no longer permit such

a frequency, the new IN SIGHT publication offers the same

valuable information and more two times each year. If

there is a topic you think MAO should consider for the next

issue share your thoughts with the publication team.



Thomas L. Stephens

Media Relations Specialist


Dianne Teague

Government and Donor Relations



MAO and rural Alabama was a prominent voice at an information gathering roundtable discussion hosted by

the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs in August 2019.

Photo shared via social media by the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. See article below.



An Invitation to Speak Candidly About Rural Health

During the last week of August 2019, the U.S. Department of Health &

Human Services’ Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs hosted a rare

opportunity in Washington, DC for discussion between federal government

health officials, state and local health departments, and community partners

as part of ongoing information gathering to inform the new End the HIV/AIDS

Epidemic Plan. The gathering, which coulud be best described as a “round

table discussion” was hosted by several recognizable figures on the national

health and health policy-making stage, most notably, the Secretary of Health

and Human Services, Alex Michael Azar II, the Surgeon General, VADM

Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., and the Director for the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, MD. Medical Advocacy and

Outreach (MAO) was honored to be invited.

MAO’s invitation came, in part, as a result of prior participation by meeting

organizers’ in presentations given by MAO Team Members in various settings,

either in person or in webinar formats. Organizers were particularly

impressed by presentations given by MAO’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael

Murphree, LICSW, on topics ranging from the Ryan White Care Act to the use

of telemedicine technology to remove barriers in rural care, and other issues

of relevance in professional academic and policy-making settings. Many of

these presentations had been either directly or indirectly supported by the

Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services.

Continued on page 4.

May I have

the envelope please?

MAO’s Dr. Laurie Dill,

MD, AAHIVS continues

to be recognized for her

passion, dedication and

accomplishments. Most

recently, Dr. Dill was presented

with the 2019 Martha Myers

Role Model Award. The Award,

bestowed by the University

of Alabama Medical Alumni

Association near annually

since 2007, is intended to

inspire generations of medical

students by highlighting the

accomplishments of physician

alumni whose lives epitomize

the ideal of service to their


Pictured (Left to Right at

podium): Dr. John Wheat,

Chair of the Medical Alumni

Association Board of Directors,

Dr. Dill, and Dr. Selwyn Vickers,

Senior VP and Dean of the UAB

School of Medicine.

Photo courtesy of

W.J. Many, Jr., MD, FACP.




On Sept. 24, 2019, MAO’s CEO, Michael Murphree, LICSW, represented MAO in

a panel discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC

and moderated by Naomi Seiler, Associate Professor, Milken Institute School

of Public Health, George Washington University, titled “Ending HIV in America:

Policy and Program Insights From Local Health Agencies and Providers”.

In addition to Murphree, the panel included: Phyllis Mann, Director of HIV

Services, Capital Area Health Network, Gregorio Millett, Vice President and

Director of Public Policy, amFAR, and Gretchen Weiss, Director of HIV, STI, &

Viral Hepatitis, NACCHO.

The panel discussion and activities of the day spoke to and expanded on

the findings released in the Bipartisan Policy Center’s report relating to

understanding the challenges and opportunities to end the HIV epidemic from

the vantage point of frontline health care providers and local health agencies

in eight diverse jurisdictions distributed geographically around the country:

Seattle, Washington; Bronx, New York; Kansas City, Missouri; Jacksonville

(Duval County), Florida; Clark County, Nevada; Scott County, Indiana;

Richmond, Virginia; and, Montgomery, Alabama. Visit bit.ly/BPPCEndHIV

to access the full report or bit.ly/BPPCsept24 to watch the September




An Invitation to Speak Candidly About Rural Health

Continued from page 3.

Other meeting participants reflected a canvas of dynamic

individuals and agencies recognized for successes in the

HIV prevention and treatment landscape. As recanted by Mr.

Murphree,“One of the participants brought profound views and

significant experience based in faith-based outreach work in

the City of Atlanta. The individual and his church work tirelessly

with the homeless population. He spoke to the critical nature of

collaborations in their successes thus far.” In addition to MAO,

five other change-leading efforts were represented, three from

the Deep South, two from the metro Washington, DC area, and

one from northeastern Pennsylvania serving the New York,

Pennsylvania, New Jersey border.

“What could have been an intimidating experience with so

many recognizable faces quickly became a relaxing, but candid

exchange among learned colleagues. Much of the credit goes to

Dr. Redfield, who visited MAO in Alabama in June 2019, and the

galvanizing personalities of Secretary Azar and Surgeon General

Adams,” observed Murphree. At a pre-meeting discussion with

many of the invited guests, Dr. Redfield quickly got us focused

following sincere pleasantries. He encouraged us to take

stock of our successes, the landscapes in which we work, and

consider possible strategies for better reaching people from

all backgrounds. Our thoughts in these areas would contribute

to the successful realization of the End the HIV/AIDS Epidemic


Murphree elaborate on the breadth of perspectives provided by

the collective guests. Among those that stood out in the day’s

conversations were: utilizing faith connections to overcome the

potential for faith barriers; concepts for reaching women and

Continued on next page...


Are you a care or service


Allow the Teleheath Resource

Center to help you get

connected with telemedicine

and your clients.

Call (334) 280-3349, ext. 6000

“The true enemy

of public health is

stigma,” Redfield said

after a meeting with

state lawmakers,

public health officials

and physicians.

“In rural America,

stigma is an even

greater issue.”

- Associated Press June 2019 - Robert

Redfield, MD.

Director for the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC)

Pictured (Left to Right):

Gregorio Millett, Vice

President and Director

of Public Policy, amFAR,

Michael Murphree,


Advocacy and Outreach,

Phyllis Mann, Director

of HIV Services, Capital

Area Health Network,

, and Gretchen Weiss,

Director of HIV, STI, &

Viral Hepatitis, NACCHO.

Photo courtesy of the

Bipartisan Policy


men living with HIV in diverse settings, cultural and geographic-specific

considerations, and the active involvement of people living with HIV in both the

creation and implementation of goals. At least two of the individuals present were

open about their status as people living with HIV. “From the outcomes of the day’s

conversations, I found it reinforcing to hear sentiments about the joint interest

of HRSA and CDC to bring people living with HIV into the dialogue about reaching

people, treatment, and even PrEP. MAO and those it serves in South Alabama have

benefitted greatly by involving willing clients in roles that inform what we do and how

we do it. Members of MAO’s Consumer Advisory Board, many of which are now LEAD

Academy graduates, never stop helping us become better at serving people,” heralded


For those less familiar, the LEAD (Leadership, Education, and Advocacy Development)

Academy is an intensive training program created by and for people living with HIV,

with support from the Southern AIDS Coalition and the Gilead Compass Initiative.

Upon completion, participants graduate as “Southern LEADers” with advanced

knowledge of HIV, real-world experience with advocacy, and the skills to serve as

leaders and trusted sources of information within their community.

Those involved in the August meeting were impressed by much of the content

discussed, but many were delightfully amazed by the willingness of the nation’s health

authorities to consider revisiting previously effective strategies of the past. Among

them, references were made to the possibility of a modern blitz campaign similar to

the now legendary action taken by Former Surgeon

General, C. Everett Koop in 1988 – his direct mailing

of the eight-page informational flyer “Understanding

AIDS” to every household in America. Although

admittedly more candid in its content than many

were accustomed to at the time, the mailing and

other equally objective responses to the epidemic

taken by Koop, who died in 2013, earned national

headlines like “The Surgeon General Who Put

Science Before Personal Ideology” and “Doctor, Not

Chaplain: How a Deeply Religious Surgeon General

Taught a Nation About HIV”.

Although the participants left unclear if similar

sessions would take place, there were definite

commitments made with regard to followup

communications and keeping the voices

of participants an active part of ongoing Plan

discussions. The consensus of the participants

was that there was a common theme arising from

their interaction with the hosts - the pursuit of a

more holistic response. Additionally, the interest in

generating a plan that works is truly bipartisan – a

win, win for America, and Alabama.

When asked to speculate on what expectations

might have been associated with MAO’s participation

in the meeting, Murphree shared, “I think what

makes MAO unique is that we have developed

a very clear model about how to reach rural

communities others in the US have not.” He went

on to share his vision for success, “We must look

at messages and approaches that are not just

urban-centered. Even when considering strategies

that have proven successful in urban settings, we

must have the latitude to adapt or customize them

with consideration given to geographic and social


“Thirty-plus years of using models that worked

well in other parts of the country, but yielded

little results in the communities we serve has

taught us the value of moving beyond the cookie

cutter approach. People-centered, adaptive, and

innovative strategies are what will be required not

only to end the HIV epidemic, but to address other

rising health issues being faced by people living in

rural areas.”

Of course, on behalf of MAO and MAO’s colleagues

in the State of Alabama, Murphree extended an open

invitation to the Secretary of Health and Human

Services Azar to visit, tour, and get to know the

peoples of Alabama.

Like and

follow MAO

on social

media or

visit us




Serving the mind and the body

MAO’s newest arm, the Division of Behavioral

Health, began expansion efforts in 2018. The

primary goal of the expansion was to offer

substance abuse and mental health counseling

services to agency patients and client who

are accessing behavioral health services. The

offering of services have been initiated through

the integration of behavioral health services into

the following: (1) medical and clinical operations

through physician referrals and consultations; (2)

capacity building through workforce development

and staff training on specialized topics around

behavioral health; (3) social services through

the coordination of community resources and

referral linkages; (4) administration through

agency wide planning for Alabama Department

of Mental Health substance abuse treatment

certification; (5) marketing and social media

through the use of multimodal dissemination of

behavioral health information to staff and the

community; (5) telehealth through opportunities

for substance abuse prevention and treatment

opportunities in rural communities; and, (6)

financial planning for future acquisition of state

and federal funding, private pay fee for services,

third party insurance billing.

The Division of Behavioral Health continues to

explore opportunities to address the opioid crisis

in Alabama. In 2018, the following programs

were implemented and funding initiatives were

pursued respectively:


• Intra departmental development and

coordination of the OTAP Committee (Opioid

Treatment Abuse and Prevention) including

capacity building and pharmacy.

• Hosting the National Prescription Drug

Take Back Observance on April 26 for the

community, patients, and MAO staff

• Hosting the 1st Annual Opioid Summit on

October 18 for state and local community

substance abuse and mental health


• Naloxone 101 Training for clinical and social

services staff on September 25 and October


• Integration of the SBIRT (Screening for Brief

Intervention Referral to Treatment) and

ASAM (American Society for Addiction


Hundreds of pounds of unused and/or expired prescription drugs are

no longer in circulation putting South Alabama residents at risk for

addiction, overdose or other health complications.

In addition to supporting the National DEA Drug Take Back Days in

the Spring and the Fall, all MAO site locations accept drop offs during

business hours in Montgomery, Dothan, and Atmore.

Medicine) assessment tools to screen patients

for opioid related disorders.

The integration of comprehensive behavioral

health services into Ryan White Care programs

at MAO is evolving, expanding and growing.

“In my background as a social worker and as a

mental health therapist, I found when I came to

MAO I was also including those skill sets with

the people of MAO. So many of those we care for

have undiagnosed behavioral health issues. For

us to look at the holistic (under one roof) model

includes behavioral health including substance

use/addiction to help treat the whole person. Ryan

White Care Act model includes the complete care


Michael Murphree, LICSW, CEO

Medical Advocacy and Outreach

“The vision for Behavioral Health is to assist and

support patients on their journey to personal

healing and wholeness. Collectively, we aim to

empower and encourage individuals to achieve a

higher quality of life emotionally, mentally, socially

and spiritually through personal growth and selfdevelopment

throughout the life span.”

Elana Parker Merriweather, Ed.S., LPC, AADC

Director of Behavioral Health

Medical Advocacy and Outreach




In 2019, Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) launched an initiative to combat opioid abuse in 36 of Alabama’s

67 counties and invited Selma AIR and Five Horizons Health Services (FHHS) to serve as launch partners. Take

Back, Educate, Inundate, aims to address one of the six priority areas of the Alabama Data Driven Prevention

Initiative (DDPI) on Opioid and Heroin Abuse and Overdose. In 2017, DDPI developed a strategic map identifying

the priority situational needs pertaining to the opioid epidemic in Alabama. The Project of MAO, Selma AIR, and

FHHS addresses priority C of that plan - Strengthening the Prevention and Education Infrastructure.

The Initiative captured the attention of the Amerisource Bergen Foundation, which generously committed the

funds necessary to aunch the effort. The commitment by the AmerisourceBergen Foundation to the Project

was part of collective commitments in Opioid Resource Grants and in-kind donations awarded to more than

20 organizations nationally in 2018 totaling in excess of $3.4 million. The Foundation is recognized for having

identified and developed comprehensive opioid misuse and abuse initiatives, including the Opioid Resource

Grant Program and the Safe Disposal Support Program, to redefine best practices and advance innovative

ideas from nonprofits with the goal of improving the wellbeing of communities around the world.

The Take back, Educate, Inundate Initiative represents a 3-pronged approach to combating the opioid crisis in

Alabama by providing: 1) safe and secure prescription drug take-back disposal locations; 2) opioid prevention

education in partnership with health providers, patients, and partnering agency team members; and 3)

informative and motivational messages through social media and related digital medium to reach the broadest

audience possible. “Reports continue to reinforce the critical need to take back unused/expired opioids to keep

them out of the hands of recreational drug users and those who might become addicted to them. It is equally

important to educate staff and high-risk members of the community about prescription drug misuse, needle

sharing, and how to address these issues with those who need care,” heralded Elana Parker Merriweather,

Ed.S., LPC, AADC, MAO’s Director of Behavioral Health. “Together, Medical Advocacy and Outreach, Selma AIR

and Five Horizons Health Services, can make a real difference.”

The Initiative is unique in several ways. It focuses light on people living

Although HIV/

AIDS can affect

anyone, the risk

of infection is


higher in those

suffering with

substance abuse,

whether the risk is

of direct exposure

through needles

or increased high

risk behavior

due to impaired


with HIV, of whom 40% - 45% of injection drug users (IDU) are HIV positive;

and, 40% of people living with HIV (PLWHIV) are associated with IDU either

directly or by having sex with an IDU user. Because of their HIV status,

this population creates a greater risk of infecting others through shared

needles especially since syringe exchange is illegal in Alabama, creating

a need for other types of interventions. West Alabama, especially Walker

County, has been identified by the CDC as one of the 220 U.S. counties

at high risk for an HIV outbreak as a result of the opioid epidemic. To

maximize efforts, the partners each agreed to assume a leadership

role for roll-out in locations where their agencies maintain a significant

presence. With multiple locations and presence in the southern third of

Alabama, northwest Alabama, and the Black Belt, more than 50% of the

state is being served by the Initiative.

As the lead partner, MAO also provides supports,

human and material, to help all partners maximize

community impact and achieve Initative goals.

MAO is thrilled to announce Amerisource Bergen

Foundation will continue its support of the Initiative

in 2020; however, additional sources of support will

also be explored and

additional partners



Five-Year Program to Reduce Disparities in HIV Care

for South Alabama Residents

The CARE(Creating Access, Retention, & Engagement) Program

In September of 2019, Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) learned the nonprofit would be one of three

program grantees supported through HIV Care Connect, a $7 million, five-year initiative established by the

Merck Foundation to help reduce disparities in access to care and improve health outcomes for persons with

HIV living in vulnerable and underserved Southeastern U.S. communities.

In the 28 South Alabama Counties currently served by MAO, women account for 34% of people living with

HIV (PLWH) in comparison to 27.7% statewide and 25% nationally. Whereas studies have revealed a decline

in diagnosis in women nationally, the percentages have remained consistent in MAO’s service area. Certain

populations, including women, face additional barriers to accessing high-quality HIV care, resulting in

substantial disparities that persist throughout the HIV care continuum.

Reducing disparities in access to HIV care and treatment requires multilevel strategies to improve linkage to

and long-term engagement in HIV care. It also requires collaboration among local health organizations and

community-based support agencies to address barriers to care associated with social determinants of health,

which include economic stability, neighborhood and physical environment, education, stigma, social context

and trust in health care system.

As observed by Jamil Dawson, Director of Support Services for MAO, “People living with HIV in the Deep

South face many barriers, especially women. High poverty rates, extremely limited public transportation,

lack of accessible healthcare providers of any kind, stigma fostered by cultural and religious beliefs, mental

health and substance use, intimate partner violence, and lack of HIV-related services contribute to low

linkage and retention rates for women living with HIV. They are less likely to receive care within 90 days of

diagnosis as compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, much of the current research on HIV focuses

on men, even though women account for 25% of people living with HIV in the US and 34% of those in our 28

county service area. Of particular note, these women of the Deep South have little to no network of support.

Many women have been marginalized by the system, family, and intimate partners, leaving them isolated and

hesitant to seek treatment. As building trust among this group is paramount in linking and retaining them in

care, our program aims to establish and foster improved relationships between women living with HIV and

their HIV care providers.”

MAO’s multi-level intervention program, CARE (Creating Access, Retention, and Engagement), addresses

barriers to care for MAO’s unusually high percentage of women living with HIV. CARE addresses many social

and structural issues that affect linkage to and retention in care. Through a series of targeted and evidencebased

interventions, we specifically address housing and food insecurity, transportation, lack of social support,

stigma, behavioral health issues, and intimate partner violence. Because these barriers are exacerbated by

the lack of education and employment opportunities that exist in the rural counties that MAO serves, these

barriers are also addressed. Among its goals, CARE is committed to increasing linkage to HIV care within 30

days of diagnosis, particularly for pregnant/postpartum women, and increasing HIV appointment adherence.

MAO’s success is evident in its current efforts to serve this target segment. CARE is an expansion of an already

existing program, Moms of H.O.P.E (Health, Outreach, Prevention, Empowerment), the name of our Maternity

and Infant Services. Data from this program has shown that prior to the implementation of the HOPE Program,

appointment adherence for pregnant and postpartum women living with HIV was 45%. Within six months of

targeted interventions, adherence for this same cohort of women rose to 81%.


“We need to accelerate solutions that address the growing disparities in patients’ access to HIV care and

health outcomes, and focus on communities that are most affected,” said Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding,

executive vice president and chief patient officer at Merck. “Through HIV Care Connect, we are pleased to

partner with Medical Advocacy and Outreach and help catalyze collaboration among organizations across the

southeastern United States and improve care coordination among people most affected by HIV.”

Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) (Montgomery, AL) joins selected organizations in communities across

the Southeast as program grantees of HIV Care Connect. The other two program grantees are: Care Resource

(Miami, FL) and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, MS)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham will serve as the National Program Office for HIV Care Connect.

In this capacity, it will support the program efforts of the grantee organizations and provide leadership in

building a public-private partnership to reduce disparities in HIV care.

MAO’s HOPE Program, in partnership with the University

of Alabama’s Family Clinic pediatric infectious disease

providers, helped transition 103 healthy babies into this

world between 2012 and 2019. 100% of their mothers were

living with HIV and 98% were living below 100% of the

federal poverty level. Additionally, 74% of the perinatal

women, these new mothers, have a co-occurring

mental health diagnosis.



Back in 1996, when Dr. Laurie Dill first joined the MAO team, the landscape of specialty care, rural care,

and, even more so, HIV care and treatment was radically different than today. Unfortunately, more people

were dying of AIDS complications than living with HIV. Of course, what she brought to MAO’s clients as

a compassionate care provider and an experienced physician quickly elevated her to the role of Medical

Director. Much of the credit for the lives saved over the past 20 years and

the quality of care extended by MAO to the now more than 2,000 spanning

28 counties can be directly or indirectly credited to her application of

experience, commitment to innovation, passion, leadership, and her fierce

advocacy efforts for patients. As a result of Dr. Dill’s involvement, MAO’s

holistic care model and innovations, including the use of telemedicine

technology, have elevated conversations even among policy makers that

are helping to improve rural healthcare. Her efforts have earned her

recognitions locally and nationally, including invitations by past Presidents

to participate on the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and being

named one of POZ Magazine’s 2016 Top 100. To quote Dr. Dill: “I’ve worked

in HIV care for more than two decades and I truly believe we now have

ALL the tools needed to get our country to zero new rates of infection.”

Dr. Dill believes in the process of good medicine, but remains realistic.

She also remains committed to the mantra that“we must take care of the

whole patient to help them take care of themself.” This means stepping

out of our individual comfort zone; meeting patients’ needs where they are; providing education and

ensuring they are safe; that they have a place to live; and helping with mental health/addiction issues. In

January 2020, Dr. Dill will be passing the Medical Director hat at MAO to another rising star. Dr. Dill will

Dr. Laurie Dill shown above

with her 2017 River Region Ethics Award

not be leaving MAO. She will continue to serve MAO clients as a part time physician and lead the agency’s

Ending the Epidemic planning process.


Although Laurie Dill, MD, AAHIVS will in many ways continue to be a

knowledgeable guardian angel when it comes to patient care at MAO,

she will be officially passing the baton as MAO’s Medical Director to

another dynamic individual already familiar with MAO’s clients on

January 1, 2020. “MAO and I are delighted to announce that Dr. Cordelia

Stearns, MD, who has worked in our Thursday evening clinic since June

2018, will be coming on board full time as MAO’s Medical Director,”

announced Dr. Dill in a public statement. Dr. Stearns and Dr. Dill

officially began laying the groundwork in August of 2019 for a smooth

New Year transition.

In addition to supporting MAO’s clients part time for almost two years

and having practiced in other settings for more than eight years,

Dr. Stearns has quickly established herself as an equally respected

researcher and educator. Most recently, she held the role of Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine,

University of Alabama (UAB) Montgomery Medical Campus and Associate Program Director for the

UAB Internal Medicine Residency Program. These roles came after having already served as Assistant

Professor of Internal Medicine for UAB Montgomery. During her time with UAB, Dr. Stearns earned

aquacades by peers and students. Beyond her classroom, residency, and office commitments to

advancing the next generation of medical professionals, Dr. Stearns has been a frequent contributor

and reviewer for many industry publications, including the Substance Abuse Journal and the Journal

of General Internal Medicine. She has also been a certification standard setter for the American Board

of Internal Medicine. Alone or in collaboration with peers, Dr. Stearns has contributed articles to an

extensive list of publications and academic texts, including the Journal of Hospital Medicine, AIDS

Care, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Academic Emergency Medicine, to name a few, on

a range of topics including: provider perceptions and practice, patient outcomes, patient transitioning

from clinical trials to routine care, as well as an exhaustive list of subjects derived from studies into

contemporary health issues. A popular presenter, Dr. Stearns has canvased the nation as a result of

invitations to present at conferences, leader gatherings, and medical training programs.

Much of Dr. Stearns early career provided her with extensive experience in the field of HIV and the

co-morbidities MAO providers routinely manage with their patients. She received her medical degree

from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine where she received the coveted 21st Century

Gamble Scholar recognition including a full merit scholarship to the University, the Emergency Medicine

Research Prize, and the Anna Chirico Award for Excellence in Primary Care.

These would represent only the beginning of many

similar honors bestowed Dr. Stearns. She completed

her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of

California, San Francisco, and the Health Equity and

Advocacy Training Pathway Program at San Francisco

General Hospital, considered a global leader by many

in HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, research, and


since 1983.

“I feel Dr. Stearns is a wonderful fit for the MAO

family, and brings a very strong skill set for this

position. She is passionate about the work of

MAO, and about working with vulnerable patient

populations,” observed Dr. Dill. Dr. Marguerite

Barber-Owens, MD, AAHIVS, will continue to serve as

Assistant Medical Director and has heralded similar

comments of enthusiasm about Dr. Stearns taking the

mantle of Medical Director.

MAO INSIGHT - WINTER 2019/2020 - PAGE 10



Free, confidential community testing and linkage to care

strategies grew MAO’s client base above 2,000 in 2019.






Continued from cover.

Dr. Carlos Reyes-Sacin, MD, AAHIVS, FACP, paints the picture

for Dr. Redfield from the CDC how MAO uses telemedicine.

Photo courtesy of Holly M. Calloway, ADPH.

This experience alone provided the basis for a dynamic discussion about the growing potential for using

telemedicine to improve rural care, not only with regard to HIV, but by removing geographic and economic barriers

impacting care in general.

Dr. Redfield’s visit did not end at the MAO facility. An active conversation forum with the Director involving

community service agency representatives and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) personnel was

held at the ADPH offices in downtown Montgomery. During this exchange, both sides explored opportunities,

barriers, and challenges associated with responding to HIV in Alabama. A one and a half-hour question and answer

session was factored into the gathering, facilitated by MAO’s Michael Murphree. During the dialogue, all parties

contributed to an active examination of the Alabama landscape, particularly rural areas,through the lens of the new

HIV 2030 Plan.

What could be misinterpreted as luck or coincidence was, in fact, not a divine intervention, but a visit driven by

data and a demonstrated need for greater understanding. The significance of Dr. Redfield’s interest and Alabama

playing such a prominent role in national planning is directly related to the high rates of HIV plaguing rural areas

in the South. Reports released during the past two years have consistently shown that a higher proportion of new

HIV diagnoses (23 - 24%) are occurring in suburban and rural areas. As reported by the Alabama Department of

Public Health in the late spring of 2019, “Alabama bears a substantial HIV burden – more than 10% of the state’s HIV

diagnoses are in rural areas…Alabama is one of seven states selected to receive additional expertise, resources and

technology needed to end the HIV epidemic.” The “one in seven” reference relates to data supporting a new national

initiative launched in 2019. In February, President Trump announced an initiative aimed at reducing HIV infections

by 75 percent in five years and 90 percent in 10 years. The initiative targets 48 counties, Washington, D.C., and San

Juan, Puerto Rico, because of their high number of HIV cases. It targets seven states in their entirety with high rates

in rural areas – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

“There is a significant take away from Dr. Redfield’s visit to Alabama and MAO. Dr. Redfield is an informed leader

and observer of our work. Unlike so many of his predecessors, his career afforded him experience working in HIV

during the darker parts of the pandemic in the 1980s. As a result, for MAO, the visit provided a rare opportunity to

engage and strategize without needing to extensively pre-educate. Everyone at MAO is thrilled that Dr. Redfield

was left with such a definite positive impression of our work and our innovations.

He continues to voice sentiments months later in settings with other Plan leaders.

What a testament to the impact MAO is having not only in the communities we are In the Next Issue

directly serving, but on those authorities working toward realizing health goals

for the nation,” observed MAO’s Michael Murphree.

“From his visit to Montgomery and in other settings where our paths have crossed,

it remains clear that Dr. Redfield agrees that part of the solution to ending the

HIV pandemic is to reinvest in education. We saw more than a decade of moving

away from education, but Dr. Redfield seems to return to a commitment of public

education about health with an informed strategy of individualized approaches. In

Dr. Redfield’s words, ‘all of you in these communities tell us what you need to do

your work,’” summarized Murphree.



• Getting PrEPPARED with


• Learning through Alabama


• Telehealth Resource


• Educating the Community

• Tread Red Walk & Fun Run

MAO INSIGHT - WINTER 2019/2020 - PAGE 11

2900 McGehee Road

Montgomery, Alabama 36111

(800) 510-4704




September 12, 2020







There are 7 CONVENIENT WAYS in which you can make gifts to MAO to improve the health of rural residents

in the regions we serve through risk reduction activities and to potentially save the lives of the 2,000

receiving care and support services through MAO and those like them.

For more information, visit our website, e-mail info@maoi.org,

or call Diane Teague at (334) 315-5421 or Doug McCloud at (334) 481-1602.





Visit our website, choose

DONATE from the top right of

any page.


Mail to: MAO, Annual Fund

2900 McGehee Road

Montgomery, Alabama 36111


Make a one-time gift or

recurring payment through

your bank or bill pay service.


Give the gift of stocks,

bonds, or mutual funds

held longer than 12 months

with appreciated value, or,

if age 70 ½ or over, direct

your otherwise taxable

minimum distribution from

an IRA directly.


Yes! You can still call us.

We can process a major

credit card over the



Although the tax-deductible

benefit to you may not be

the same, our Food Pantry,

Hope’s Closet for moms,

etc. always benefit from



Donations can be made anonymously or in

honor of a loved one even online.

* Please call prior to delivery or



Shop online using AmazonSmile, make Montgomery AIDS Outreach Inc your charity of choice and we could get 0.5%

of your transactions as a donation, OR, you can also support the Moms of HOPE using the Walmart (in store and

online) or Amazon.com Baby Registries. Look for Moms of HOPE.

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