On May 15, ASC took part in a treasured annual tradition: walking beside thousands of other concerned men, women, and young people in traveling the 10-kilometer route for GMHC's AIDS Walk New York.
This year, ASC's team of 134 staff and volunteers raised ASC's visibility by "walking the walk" and brought in more than $5,000 in donations to ASC. We also clearly sent the message that the HIV epidemic continues to be an urgent issue in need of resources and public attention.
We'll be there again next year, and we hope you'll join us!
TOP— Walking the walk: ASC staff members (l-r) Tasha Harris, Maria Madrid, Brian Ball, and Donna Bryant.
BOTTOM—ASC Deputy Executive Director Brenda Starks-Ross (back row, second from right), and her youth group from Trinity Pentacostal House of Prayer in Brooklyn get ready to walk on behalf of ASC.
Here at ASC, every week is women's wellness week, but in mid-May, we made it official with "Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit," our second annual Women's Wellness Week program. The event drew women from ASC's client caseload, along with women from ASC's outreach and service venues, including residential drug treatment programs and single room occupancy (SRO) hotels in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. During this special program for women, workshops and discussion groups provided numerous opportunities for women to nurture themselves, explore new ideas, and create and expand community support systems.
One workshop, "The Power of Words," explored the role words can play in shaping women's attitudes, beliefs, and self-image in both positive and negative ways. ASC's Supportive Services Coordinator, Nefertiti Laurie, co-facilitated this workshop with Volunteer Associate Vanessa Sullivan. According to Ms. Laurie, "After this workshop, participants walked away with a stronger consciousness of how words affect their lives and their self-esteem. They learned that words truly do have power and that each of us has a choice about the words that are spoken into our lives—and whether to accept the negative or focus on internalizing the positive. It was a very powerful group."
Another highlight of Women's Wellness Week was "A Toast to Womanhood," during which participants discussed the importance of nourishment in ensuring women's ability to care for themselves and their children, boost their energy, and manage life's challenges. The connections between nutrition and the immune system were explored, and tasty recipes for healthy eating were shared. After "toasting to womanhood" together with delicious fruit smoothies donated by Jamba Juice, the participants concluded the workshop by reading quotations from writers and poets in celebration of womanhood.
Other highlights of the week included, "Love Shouldn't Hurt," a presentation from a representative of the New York City Police Department's Domestic Violence Unit; a workshop on overcoming the barriers to safer sex; and a yoga class in which participants learned breathing and movement techniques to reduce stress and enhance well-being.
As always, Women's Wellness Week was a big hit among the more than 50 women attending the various workshops and events. As Nefertiti Laurie observes, "The women who came to ASC for this event found new friendships, broadened their support system, and got a sense that they're not alone and that there are other people going through what they're going through. ASC has a family feel to it. We hope events like Women's Wellness Week will encourage women to come back and experience ASC's support groups, recreational activities, and other services."
The OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test collects oral fluid and
Prior to improved HIV testing technologies, the ASC CTR team had used OraSure HIV testing, which requires 3–5 days for off-site processing and identification of test results. Same-day testing available through the new OraQuick technology (via an oral fluid swab that uses no needles) will make it possible for ASC to ensure that every individual we test can receive his or her results right away, without having to return for their results a few days later.
ASC's CTR Coordinator Stacey Keith is enthusiastic about the use of OraQuick in non-medical HIV testing settings such as ASC provides. "Various HIV testing methods have been around for 20 years, but they all required patients to wait days or even weeks for their results. For some, that wait meant not coming back for results, meaning that a certain percentage of the HIV-positive clients we tested were lost to follow-up. As an agency dedicated to delivering risk-reduction and prevention education where it is most needed, ASC is pleased to have this new tool at our disposal."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 900,000 Americans are currently infected with HIV. Of these, approximately 25 percent are unaware that they are HIV-positive. "People who know they are positive are far less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. This knowledge, coupled with counseling and support, is a vital part of the effort to slow the spread of HIV," says Keith. "Finding out your HIV status is the first, critical step."
Early detection is an extremely important factor in the successful management of HIV disease. By providing on-the-spot test results, counseling services, and direct linkages to care, ASC will provide HIV-positive individuals with the medical and social support services they need, while providing those who test negative with risk reduction information and programs that can help them remain uninfected. ASC offers all of these confidential services free of charge.
Click here to learn more about ASC's Counseling, Testing, and Referral program.
PREP Graduate Willie George moves guests with a heartfelt speech.
In May, nine Peer Educators graduated from ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP). More than fifty friends, family members, funders, colleagues, and clients witnessed the joyous celebration of ASC's 24th PREP capacity-building training cycle.
PREP is a centerpiece of ASC's extensive peer skills training program, which focuses on HIV education, outreach, and relapse prevention. PREP enables people affected by HIV/AIDS and in recovery from drug or alcohol use to reach other community members with culturally relevant information about HIV prevention, harm reduction and health promotion.
Each group of PREP graduates has its own unique qualities. "These participants were creative and inquisitive," says Lurenda Cray, ASC's Training Coordinator. "They were hungry for information about HIV. The more information we gave, the more they wanted to learn. As people in recovery who have walked that walk and gotten help, they really want to pass that help on to others by becoming ASC Peers. They were eager to get out there and teach others, eager to give back."
ASC is providing the PREP graduates with ample opportunities to "give back" while sharpening their newfound skills. As ASC Peers, these individuals are currently conducting general outreach in shelters and single room occupancy (SRO) hotels; providing Spanish translation to assist in recruiting Spanish-speaking women to ASC's services; and co-leading educational presentations—spreading the word about prevention of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse, while enriching their communities and reinforcing their own process of healing and recovery.
Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey and AIDS Service Center NYC received the Cable Positive Outstanding Community Partnership POP Award for I Found, a 30-second PSA (public service announcement) about AIDS Service Center. The award recognizes successful collaborations between local cable outlets and community-based AIDS organizations in the production of locally-focused HIV/AIDS-related programming.
Each year, Cable Positive recognizes leaders in the cable industry with POP Awards for Positively Outstanding Programming, highlighting the important role cable television plays in raising awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. On June 20, Cable Positive's Fourth Annual POP Awards convened at the Hudson Theater at Millennium Broadway in New York City.
Time Warner aired the I Found PSA promoting ASC's services on more than 27 local cable channels this past winter, reaching 1.4 million Time Warner customers. ASC is proud to be a community partner with Time Warner Cable. " This level of exposure has proven invaluable to nonprofit groups," observes Suzanne Giuliani, Director of Public Affairs at Time Warner of New York and New Jersey. "We were delighted to raise awareness about the commendable programs and assistance ASC provides to New Yorkers in need."
View PSA (QuickTime, 2.02MB)
ASC, in collaboration with Showtime, is also honored to have been nominated for a POPAward in the category of Outstanding Biographical Program for My Life In Verse, a short video documentary profiling members of ASC's Creative Writing Workshop, directed and edited by Marnee Meyer. Showtime aired My Life In Verse in December 2004 as part of its World AIDS Day programming.
These partnerships with Time Warner Cable and Showtime occurred as a result of ASC's ongoing relationship with Cable Positive's New York Chapter. Since 2003, Cable Positive has raised funds and recruited volunteers for ASC, while providing invaluable assistance in increasing ASC's public exposure.
This year's POP Awards offered a wonderful opportunity to recognize the caring commitment and hard work of the cable community's most commendable members. ASC is pleased to have been a part of this extraordinary event.
ASC's guests packed the Museum of Sex for ASC's first annual Safer Sex In The City fundraiser.
On June 16, the scene at New York City's Museum of Sex was one of high spirits and a generous outpouring of support for AIDS Service Center NYC. Over 300 ASC supporters lined the street waiting to join in ASC's first-ever Safer Sex In The City fundraising event.
Once inside the famed Museum of Sex, two of New York's most celebrated hip-hop DJs—D-Nice and Kool DJ Red Alert—regaled partygoers with intoxicating rhythms as they explored the museum's main exhibits, Men Without Suits: Objectifying the American Male Body and Stags, Smokers, & Blue Movies.
During the event, ASC's prevention staff showcased safer-sex techniques using male and female condoms, dental dams, finger cots, and a luscious array of sex toys. Two divas— "Helen of Trojan" and "Loofah Styles"—from C.H.E.S.T. (Community HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training) worked the crowd, distributing safer sex materials in a most fabulous manner. A "cigarette girl" also enlivened the evening, handing out complimentary "shag bags" containing condoms and candy donated by House of Groove. Safer-sex information was augmented by ASC's event journal, "Safer Sex In The City: ASC Style," a hip, beautifully designed booklet with resource information and practical tips for reducing the risk of HIV transmission while celebrating sexuality.
During breaks in the music, ASC raffled off numerous prizes, including sex toys from The Pleasure Chest; fine wine courtesy of Cellar XV Wine Merchants; and dinner for two with the producers and cast members of the Off-Broadway hit show Naked Boys Singing at Lucky Chang's, along with tickets to the show.
Safer Sex In The City proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that ASC knows how to have fun safely. "Partying and HIV prevention are not mutually exclusive," says Sharen Duke, ASC's Executive Director/CEO. "We've been running safer-sex parties in the community for years, training women peer leaders to host small gatherings in their homes, spreading the word about HIV prevention to their family, friends, and neighbors in a fun, comfortable environment." Safer Sex In The City is a mega-version of those community interventions in fundraiser form. This was ASC's first major event of this kind, and we're looking forward to an even bigger, better Safer Sex In The City in 2006.
View the list of Safer Sex In The City sponsors by clicking here.