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March 8, 2008

Safer Sex In The City is ASC's annual fundraiser promoting safer sex in the age of AIDS. This year, Safer Sex In The City will take place at Duvet, one of Manhattan's hottest nightclubs.

Our 2008 event will be bigger and better than ever, with fabulous entertainment, hip DJs, sensual surroundings, great food and drink, a silent auction, and memorable showcases of ASC's expertise in safer sex education and HIV risk reduction.

Join us for Safer Sex In The City 2008. To purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or learn more, call (212) 645-0875 ext. 360, or visit www.safersexinthecity.org.

March 8, 2008

For a first-hand experience of what "helping many, one by one" means to us here at ASC, join us at the upcoming graduation ceremony for ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP), an intensive training program that helps men and women affected by HIV/AIDS and in recovery from drug or alcohol use to reach their full potential.

The ceremony will include a powerful testimonial from a current PREP graduate and a keynote address by a past PREP graduate. You'll also hear from ASC's executive staff and Board, enjoy refreshments, and meet the graduates. Join us at 41 East 11th Street, 5th Floor for this inspiring event. For more information, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 303, or email susan@ascnyc.org.

March 8, 2008

When I was diagnosed with HIV in 2000, my whole world stopped. I went into total hiding, total isolation. I wouldn't come out of my house; I just lay in my bed in the fetal position. Then a friend told me about ASC. She said, "You'll get all the support you need there."

I've been coming to ASC ever since. This agency helped me with everything from going to the doctor and understanding my medical information to getting individual therapy and maintaining a healthy mindset. ASC made me want to get out of bed, and today I have my life back.

As a Senior Peer Educator, I co-lead many peer trainings, including ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP) core training, hepatitis and HIV education initiative (HOPE), and new women's program, HERS @ ASC.

Through HERS @ ASC, I provide one-to-one peer coaching with women who are trying to recover from substance abuse or anything else. A big piece of that work focuses on building women's self-worth and confidence. I meet with the women and help them find the person inside, create themselves some freedom, and stay on track with their recovery by providing whatever assistance they need.

For me, HERS @ ASC is about passing along the same kind of help and safety that I got when I came to this agency. If the HERS program does for half the women what ASC did for me, we can slow the rate of women getting infected unknowingly, women staying trapped in addiction, and women not feeling like they matter. When HIV almost defeated me and said, "You're not. You can't. You won't." ASC said, "You are. You can. You will." And I did. That's what I want other women to see, and to gain for themselves.

March 8, 2008

The wonderful women of HERS @ ASC.

An exciting new support program at ASC is helping women of color stay strong as they recover from substance abuse. Honoring Everywoman's Right to Safety (HERS @ ASC) offers peer coaching, support services, and skills trainings to improve health and promote long-term stability.

Through specially designed programs that address the effects of gender roles, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and parenting responsibilities, HERS @ ASC provides women with much-needed emotional support. The program also provides enhanced access to medical care, mental health services, and housing.

"We take women out of their isolation and into the larger community of the HERS program," says ASC Co-Director of Prevention Services Ramona Cummings. "It's phenomenal to see them really thrive together, with support from each other."

The program includes one-to-one peer coaching by peer leaders whose recovery is solid. They encourage and support other women struggling to stay clean. "We see every interaction as an opportunity to reach women who need help," says ASC's Women's Services Advocate Vanessa Sullivan. "The peer coaching happens in drug treatment programs, SROs, health clinics—everywhere HERS @ ASC participants have a presence."

HERS @ ASC also links to ASC's case management services and mental health counseling—critical services for women facing overwhelming hurdles to overcoming addiction. "We're seeing women who have been through every traumatic event you can imagine," says Dr. Genata Carol, who provides onsite mental health counseling at ASC. "Most grew up in tremendous poverty and neglect. They've lived through molestation, violence, prison, prostitution, and domestic abuse. For many, their response to trauma was not, ‘I'm going to get help,' but ‘I'm going to get high,' because in the environments they grew up in, substance abuse was the only ‘solution' and no other form of help was available."

With services that confront the realities of their lives and a social support network that promotes lasting recovery, these women are finally getting the help they need through HERS @ ASC. "We're bringing women together and creating sisterhood, safety, and respect for each other," says Ramona Cummings. "HERS @ ASC says: ‘You can experience safety. You can experience respect. And together, we can build a community that really addresses the problems that put women of color at risk.'"

ASC is proud to be one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive a recovery community support program grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). HERS @ ASC is also supported by the NYS AIDS Institute.

March 8, 2008

Put a little inspiration on your spring calendar by attending our annual "ASC Voices" poetry reading at Barnes & Noble/Union Square. In celebration of National Poetry Month, the event will feature powerful readings by members of ASC's Creative Writing Workshop. If you haven't seen ASC's powerhouse poets in action, now's your chance! The event is free of charge. Copies of the latest issue of ASC's literary magazine, Situations will be distributed.

March 8, 2008

Artful expressions of Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

While every day is "awareness day" at ASC, we were pleased to provide an engaging mix of special activities to mark this year's Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day theme of "Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved, Get Treated" on Thursday, February 7. Thousands of sister organizations across the U.S. and around the world sponsored similar events.

The day began with "The Silver Fox," a panel on the epidemic's growing impact on persons over the age of 50. "Older adults are getting infected at an alarming rate," observes ASC Training Coordinator Guy Williams. "During the panel, audience members learned about the special risks this under-recognized population faces, and how HIV medical regimens grow more complicated in the context of an aging body."

An original art exhibit by ASC clients and Peer Educators explored the themes of "hope" and "courage" in relation to HIV/AIDS. An art viewing was followed by a powerful testimonial by Minister Antionettea Etienne, co-chair of the NYC Planning Council and New York State Prevention Planning Group Advisory Boards. A participant in the Riverside Global HIV/AIDS Ministry, Minister Etienne spoke of how she became HIV positive and the role the church plays in supporting communities affected by HIV/AIDS. She also spoke movingly about the importance of breaking through stigma to overcome hopelessness and despair. Participants were riveted by her presence and inspired by her story.

We were pleased that, as always, our Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day activities included equal doses of information, inspiration and practical support for our many attendees.

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