Early in his career, Ryan Crane realized his passion in advocating for marginalized groups by working for nonprofit organizations. Before joining Primary Health Care in March 2013 as director of development, Crane worked for One Iowa, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group. A Greater Des Moines resident since 2008, Crane serves on the board of the New Leaders Council and is also a member of the First Friday Breakfast Club. In his current position with Primary Health Care, one of his major responsibilities is advancing The Project, formerly known as AIDS Project of Central Iowa. The largest AIDS service organization in Central Iowa, The Project last year served more than 500 clients who are HIV-positive or have AIDS. In Iowa, an average of 111 people annually were diagnosed with HIV from 2002 through 2011. Men accounted for more than 80 percent of those diagnoses. Although the greatest number of new cases occurred among people 25 to 44 years old, diagnoses among people 13 through 24 years of age have been on the rise since 2007. 

How has the role of The Project changed over time? 

When it first started, HIV and AIDS looked a lot different than (they do) now, on a level most folks can’t even understand. When (the AIDS Project of Central Iowa) started in 1991 it was initially a peer group for people who were dying of AIDS, mostly gay men. Over time, HIV became less of a death sentence as the medicine and federal funding in the form of Ryan White grants came about to support folks with HIV with payments for medical care and living expenses. ... So there has been a renewed focus on prevention of transmission - making sure that people who have HIV are linked to care, have mental health counseling and stay connected to a case manager. If you link somebody to care, they are less likely to spread the disease.

How does The Project fit into Primary Health Care overall? 

Who we are and what we do is health care. Nine out of 10 patients are seen for basic health care. We are a (federally funded) community health center, so from that standpoint we provide a great deal of general basic care. In addition to The Project, we provide services to homeless clients, and there is not much overlap between the homeless and HIV-positive populations. Thirty-five to 40 of our 200 employees provide client services to the homeless or HIV-positive; the rest are medical staff who provide health care. 
What federal funding support does Primary Health Care get for HIV prevention? 

Central Iowa was getting a fairly high percentage of prevention dollars, but we’re seeing a pretty significant impact with budget cuts at the federal level. All of the grants and funding streams combined total more than $5 million currently. It’s unfortunate for us (that funding has declined), but most of the (new HIV) cases are in major cities, which have higher instances of HIV transmission. In funding for HIV client services and prescription drug assistance, we’ve been pretty fortunate; that funding has remained stable.

How much does The Project require in private support, and how is that money used? 

About $150,000 is needed annually. Donations go to client assistance, and we really can’t get enough of those. We have a full food pantry and the ability to disburse gasoline cards. We have a good amount of discretion in how we can use those private donations, and that’s how they are used. The great value of private donations is that we can have some flexibility in their use. Our two big projects are the Annual AIDS Walk/Run, which will be held on May 10, along with the Red Hot Party, a wine and cheese gala, which is our largest event by dollar donations. 

Is there a fundraising goal for Primary Health Care’s homeless program? 

It has never had active fundraising attached to it; it has been goods-based donations such as clothing. That program is in a building period. In a year or two, we would hope the donation numbers are similar between the two programs. 

Tell me about the New Leaders Council. 

Since 2012, I’ve served in a director role for New Leaders Council’s Des Moines chapter. NLC is a national organization that aims to recruit, train and promote the next generation of progressive leaders. Locally, NLC brings in experts in business, civics and nonprofits, putting influence-makers in front of tomorrow’s community leaders.

What do you like to do on weekends? 

I am an avid health and wellness enthusiast, and you can find me at the gym in cold months, and on Des Moines’ excellent trails in the spring and summer.