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November 6, 2007

Once again, Manhattan's Danspace Project has generously selected ASC as the recipient of its annual "Food for Thought" benefit. An inventive fusion of charity and creativity, "Food for Thought" collects non-perishable food items as it showcases eclectic dance performances.

This year's lineup will include a performance spotlighting stories of ASC clients through text and movement, curated by internationally renowned choreographer Heidi Latsky. With funding from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Ms. Latsky has been leading a weekly movement and dance group at ASC. In this expressive therapy group, people living with HIV learn to convey their thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires, and fears through dance—a powerful medium for creativity and healing.

To reserve tickets or learn more about Food for Thought, visit the Danspace website.

November 6, 2007

ASC's annual World AIDS Day event will feature a memorial service honoring those we have lost in the struggle with HIV/AIDS. We will also host a community luncheon and a poetry reading by members of ASC's Creative Writing Workshop celebrating the hot-off-the-press 11th edition of Situations, ASC's acclaimed literary journal. All guests will receive a free copy of Situations. Join us at our main offices (41 East 11th Street, 5th Floor) for this commemoration. For more information, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 360, or email jennifer@ascnyc.org.

November 6, 2007

You're invited to our annual Thanksgiving feast for clients and friends! The celebration will include dinner, music, raffles, and HIV-related resources. The gathering will take place at St. Augustine's Church at 290 Henry Street, on the Lower East Side. For travel directions, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 360, or email jennifer@ascnyc.org.

November 6, 2007

An ASC PREP graduate shares her story during a recent graduation ceremony.

Find out what ASC is all about at the graduation ceremony for ASC's current Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP) training cycle. The ceremony is the culmination of ASC's intensive training program to help men and women affected by HIV/AIDS, and in recovery from drug or alcohol use, to reach their full potential. You'll hear moving testimonials from current graduates, remarks from ASC's executive staff and Board, and a keynote address by a past ASC Peer graduate. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 360, or email jennifer@ascnyc.org.

November 6, 2007

At ASC, we help people understand how important it is to go to the doctor, stick to your meds, and take care of yourself. We provide information on how to handle side effects, talk to your doctor, understand your medical results, and find a medical plan that works for you. Once that happens, it's a whole new ballgame.

When I go into the community to provide treatment education and adherence support, I tell my own story. I was homeless, and my drug use put me to a point where I was someone I didn't even know. I've been there and back.

I let people know I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. I've seen for myself that taking your medications regularly can help T-cells go up and viral load go down. I help people understand how important it is not to be afraid of HIV medications. I tell them about ASC's workshops, counseling, and support groups. And I talk about my own efforts to adhere to my medications.

Before I started as an ASC Peer, I was 90% adherent to my meds. But working in treatment adherence, I feel I have to practice what I preach, so I'm now 100% adherent. I carry my medications when I leave the house so if I forget to take them in the morning, I can take them at work. I use an alarm clock at night to remind me about my evening dose. I'm the example that shows other people it can be done.

November 6, 2007

Every December, ASC shares a healthy dose of holiday cheer with our clients and their families at our annual Client Holiday Party. This year's event is slated for Wednesday, December 19th.

Along with food, entertainment, and fun, ASC will provide hundreds of toys and gifts at this special gathering. Want to help make this year's event the best ever for our clients and their families? Here's how:

  • Donate a gift card. ASC distributes gift cards from retailers like
    Old Navy, the Gap, and K-Mart for clients to buy cold-weather
    necessities like sweaters, hats, and gloves.
  • Volunteer as an ASC "wrapper." Help us make these special gifts sparkle with wrapping, ribbons, and bows. Volunteer gift-wrapping runs weekdays from Monday, December 10 through Tuesday, December 18, 2006, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Join us at the holiday party as a volunteer. Spread some holiday cheer at this much-anticipated annual event on Wednesday, December 19, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at ASC's main program site at 41 East 11th Street, 5th Floor.

To make a donation, register for our volunteer gift-wrapping gatherings, or learn more, call Jennifer Samuels at (212) 645-0875 ext. 360, or email jennifer@ascnyc.org.

November 6, 2007

(L-R) Treatment Adherence Specialists Sanna Moore and Max D. Hernandez, Peer Educator Patricia Woods, and Trainer Mondo Blue.

"HIV treatment isn't just about putting a pill in your mouth—it's about taking care of yourself."— ASC Treatment Adherence Specialist Max D. Hernandez

We know that HIV treatment saves lives. But some people living with HIV/AIDS have trouble staying on track, especially those for whom poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, or mental illness is a fact of life. ASC's treatment education and adherence program makes it easier to access treatment, partner with doctors, and stick to treatment regimens.

"We're the go-to people when it comes to treatment," explains ASC Treatment Adherence Specialist Max D. Hernandez. "Our job is to demystify the world of HIV medications, offer strategies for coping with side effects, and give clients tools to fit their medical regimens into their lifestyles."

Treatment adherence is typically viewed as a medical service, but ASC has enormous success providing this service in a community setting. Since many people we serve avoid doctors' offices, hospitals, and medical clinics, this is critical.

As ASC Treatment Adherence Specialist Sanna Moore observes, adherence can be particularly overwhelming for clients being treated for multiple health problems, including HIV, diabetes, asthma, and psychiatric conditions.

"I recently worked with a very ill man who'd been discharged from a nursing home with a box of 20 medications and no services in place," says Moore. "ASC's case managers helped him find housing, and I helped him sort through his prescriptions to decipher what had to be taken when and how to stay on track."

Fear is another major barrier to obtaining and maintaining treatment, adds Mondo Blue of ASC's treatment education team. "Our job is to break down fear through education, workshops, counseling, and group support. We also coordinate with medical providers and teach clients to find information about HIV treatments online."

Treatment adherence services are vital because the price of non-adherence is high. Skipping doses of HIV medication, taking medications incorrectly, or stopping treatment altogether can bring on resistance to HIV medications. That means fewer treatment options as time goes by—a dangerous prospect for people fighting to maintain quality of life in the face of HIV/AIDS.

"People who most need HIV treatment adherence services are not walking through clinic doors," observes ASC's Deputy Executive Director for Planning Kim Atkins. "Treatment adherence programs in hospitals or medical facilities can be great because they round out what doctors do. But they don't reach people who aren't getting to the doctor to begin with."

That's where ASC's treatment education and adherence services come in. "People who desperately need HIV primary care, but aren't going to a doctor or clinic on a regular basis, are seen by ASC case managers, community outreach team, and follow-up staff," explains Atkins. "Through these contacts, clients become engaged in ASC's community treatment program. The information and support we provide moves them closer to having a medical home."

November 6, 2007

ASC staff and Peers who specialize in designing and delivering services for women will bring HERS @ ASC to life.

With a prestigious grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), ASC is preparing to launch an exciting program replication called HERS (Honoring Everywoman's Right to Safety).

HERS @ ASC will focus on serving minority women using a peer-led recovery support program model based on ASC's successful HIGH on Recovery mixed-gender program.

ASC is proud to be one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive this highly competitive grant—a recognition of ASC's expertise in developing specialized, peer-driven services that meet the particular needs of HIV positive and at-risk women of color.

Set to launch in October, HERS @ ASC will promote long-term recovery from substance abuse through peer-led support services that improve women's health and enhance the well-being of their families, social networks, and communities.

"Women need to recover on the inside before they can recover on the outside," says ASC Trainer Vanessa Sullivan. "HERS will help women deal with issues that get in the way of recovery. ASC's peer model gives women a chance see other women struggling right alongside them. That gives them a sense of hope, unity, and community that builds their recovery and their role as leaders."

Through support groups, sober social activities, classes on life skills and health issues, and other services, HERS will address the effect of gender roles, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and parenting responsibilities on women's recovery process. HERS will offer much-needed social support and enhanced access to medical care, mental health services, and housing.

ASC is honored to be a part of SAMHSA's national strategy to promote peer education as a means for preventing HIV and sustaining long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug use.

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