AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin to Honor Dr. James Vergeront, Wisconsin’s AIDS/HIV Program Director
Dr. Vergeront to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 33rd Annual Make A Promise Gala
Milwaukee—March 19, 2019—The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) will honor Dr. James Vergeront, the AIDS/HIV Program Director for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 33rd Annual Make A Promise Gala. Dr. Vergeront, who is the only person to serve as the AIDS/HIV Program director over the history of the epidemic in Wisconsin, announced he will retire May 1, 2019.
“Jim has devoted his career to improving the health of the people of Wisconsin with a powerful focus on protecting them from the AIDS epidemic; still the worst public health crisis of our time,” said Michael J. Gifford, ARCW President & Chief Executive Officer. “His tireless leadership and efforts have allowed tens of thousands of people to protect themselves from HIV throughout the state and to regain and sustain their health, both allowing life to triumph over death.”
Under his steady leadership, Wisconsin has developed a nationally-renowned response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state. Today, as a result of programs and policies he shepherded over his career, people with HIV live longer in Wisconsin than in any other state and Wisconsin has one of the lowest rates of new HIV infections in the nation.
During the early response to HIV, Dr. Vergeront ensured Wisconsin became the second state to put critical HIV surveillance systems in place that protected both patient confidentiality and the needs of public health. He was also instrumental in the development of a statewide network of HIV testing sites and AIDS Service Organizations and led the creation of a partner notification system. Dr. Vergeront also ensured the Wisconsin AIDS Drug Assistance and Insurance Continuation Programs never implemented waiting lists or had to implement austerity measures, even during significant challenges that forced other states to deny access to medications and insurance for people living with HIV. A dedicated public servant who deftly put the needs of Wisconsin residents above partisan politics, Dr. Vergeront was able to ensure HIV prevention, care and treatment programs were enhanced under Democratic and Republican administrations.
Dr. Vergeront is a 1978 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and since 1979 has been an employee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Since 1983, he has served as the Director of AIDS/HIV program and has been published more than 65 times. In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award from ARCW, Dr. Vergeront was recognized by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as one of the 90 outstanding people to impact the quality of life in Wisconsin in the 1990s; was the 2004 Barbara Lange Memorial Award Recipient for “individuals who have made substantial commitments, contributions and communications that demonstrate leadership and advocacy for health education and health promotion in Wisconsin;” received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors; was inducted into Gamma Xi Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health in 2015; and, received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award, Preventive Medicine Residency Program, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.
The 33rd Annual Make a Promise Gala will be held on Saturday, March 30, at the Wisconsin Center. This year’s theme, Make A Promise, “Don’t Stop Us Now,” is inspired by legendary British rock band Queen. At the gala, other community leaders in the fight against AIDS will be honored, too, including Gerald J. Janis, Jr. and the Clean Needle Exchange Workers of Wisconsin who will each receive the Leadership Award at the event. The Gala also features a silent and live auction, dinner, and live entertainment from “America’s Got Talent” Contestant Brian Justin Crum, and music DJ Shawna. This year’s Make A Promise sponsors are: Presenting Sponsor MillerCoors; Red Ribbon Sponsor ARCW Pharmacy; Major Sponsors Northwestern Mutual, Ascension, BMO Harris, and Husch Blackwell; and, Champion Sponsors Baker Tilly, Coakley Brothers and Brothers Interiors, Hupy & Abraham, Janssen Therapeutics, MM Insurance Associates, Inc., Tri-North, Sixteenth Community Center, and Mawicke & Goisman.
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin
The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) is a nationally-recognized and respected leader in the fight against AIDS. The nonprofit organization is most known for its high-quality, HIV patient outcomes. ARCW operates the only HIV Medical Home in America recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The ARCW HIV Medical Home offers integrated health and social services, including medical, dental, mental health and pharmaceutical services, along with case management and social support provided by a team of professionals dedicated to patient care. ARCW is also a leading provider of innovative and aggressive prevention services that help at-risk individuals remain HIV negative. The organization operates in three states, including Wisconsin, Colorado and Missouri, and has 12 locations. To learn more about ARCW, please visit www.arcw.org, and the organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages.