On World AIDS Day 2008, ASC is the place to be. Mark your calendar for December 1 and plan to join us as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of this worldwide event. The line-up will include a reading by ASC's powerhouse poets from the hot-off-the-press issue of ASC's literary magazine, Situations. Additional details coming soon!
I'm 20 years old. I first got tested for HIV in 2006. I was young, I had questions, and I was scared. I waited over a year until I revealed my HIV status to my sister, because the secret was eating me up inside.
My sister went on the computer to find a place to get me some information and put me in touch with a good doctor. She helped me find ASC, and that's when everything fell into place.
At ASC, I got a case manager named Jamie Taylor. Jamie is more than a case manager to me—she's like my sister. I can speak freely with her. Right away, ASC connected me with free health insurance and a good doctor at Bellevue Hospital. The doctor explained my medical situation, answered my questions, and gave me information about how to take care of myself.
ASC also gave me other kinds of support, like help with food stamps and housing. Now I have my own studio apartment at Bailey House—I can see the Hudson River from my window. I have a closet, a TV, a fridge, and a bathroom. I've decorated the place the way I want to.
I was young and naive when I got infected with HIV. I thought, if a guy likes you, it's cool. I had unprotected sex. I want young people to know that having unprotected sex only one time can lead to a lifetime of HIV/AIDS.
At first, I was angry about having HIV. I came to ASC with shades on, like it was a secret. Now I'm able to face it. I go to ASC weekly, where I can talk to someone, read up on HIV/AIDS, and eat lunch. If I have questions, Jamie helps me, encourages me, and listens to me.
The people and services make ASC the place it is. They always greet me with a smile, take time to see me, and ask what else they can do to help me. I want a career in social services where I can help others the way ASC helped me. I'm going to get involved at ASC as a peer or volunteer. ASC is a great means of achieving your goals for health care, housing, and support. I'm going to keep going there for the rest of my life because it's a wonderful place.
In NYC, HIV testing is available in many settings—doctor's offices, hospitals, and community agencies like ASC—in order to quickly connect HIV positive people to medical care. Unfortunately, for many HIV positive New Yorkers, taking the step from testing to HIV primary care can be complex and challenging.
To keep people from falling through the cracks, ASC has designed our HIV Counseling and Testing Program to proactively usher our clients through the difficult process of learning their HIV status to ensure that once tested, key services are readily available to them.
Trust plays a huge role in this process. "People feel safe here," explains ASC's HIV Counseling and Testing Coordinator Juan Tud. "ASC is part of the community. We provide quick test results and connect people with medical care and anything else they need to help them stay healthy. We work hard to win their confidence."
ASC is an active community partner to the medical community. Whether providing HIV testing at a methadone clinic, offering case management in a hospital-based AIDS center, teaching patients how to take their HIV medications consistently, or accompanying them to their doctor's appointments, our goal is always the same: to promote stability and connection to care.
That means having a home base, a sense of physical and emotional security, and the motivation to take care of oneself. "Many clients don't know where to start after they get diagnosed," says ASC Case Manager Jamie Taylor. "At ASC, we give them that start by setting them up with a good medical provider and medical coverage, housing, or whatever else they need to go forward with their lives."
"ASC's services keep people connected to their doctor, our services, and other people with similar health challenges," says HIV Counselor Maria Madrid. "It's great to see people come back looking healthier and living their lives. And it's wonderful to know we were a part of helping them make that change."
Each year, ASC hosts a holiday gathering for our clients, bringing a spirit of warmth and friendship to those for whom the holidays can be a lonely and difficult time.
We need your help to make this year's gathering a success. Your donation to ASC's annual holiday gift drive will guarantee a brighter celebration for the men, women, and families we serve. Here are five easy ways to bring out your inner Santa:
1. Get Carded. Donate a gift card to a retail shop where an ASC client can buy clothing and other necessities. (Suggestions: Old Navy, the Gap, K-Mart, Macy's, etc.)
2. Think Young. Donate new toys, stuffed animals, baby blankets, or clothing for an infant or toddler.
3. Kid Around. Donate new books, games, or toys for children up to 15 years of age.
4. Be entertaining. Donate quality videos, CDs, DVDs, or electronics in good condition.
5. Use Your Imagination. ASC clients will also appreciate donations of new cosmetics, toiletries, warm clothing, and other fun and useful items.
Support ASC today and join us in our mission of "helping many, one by one" throughout the holidays, and every day. To learn more, contact Anne West-Church at (212) 645-0875 x 373, or email email@example.com.
The AIDS Service Center NYC Holiday Gift Drive is a project of AIDS Service Center NYC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible.