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June 5, 2009

Healthy Relationships Intervention Institute [Organizers]

Healthy Relationships brings HIV-positive people together in highly interactive small groups and helps them develop coping skills to reduce stress in their lives, negotiate choices, and deal with HIV disclosure.

Last month, ASC hosted the 2009 Healthy Relationships Intervention Institute, a regional summit sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Twenty AIDS service organizations from across New York State gathered to share best practices and hone the skills of training facilitators to support the implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of the Healthy Relationships program.

"Over the past 4 years, I've witnessed how the Healthy Relationships intervention has helped clients develop important skills for disclosing their HIV status to family members, friends, and sex partners," says Guy Williams, ASC Training Coordinator. "The Institute helped to reinforce the core elements of the intervention for program facilitators. It gave them the opportunity to receive guidance from the researchers present and to learn from each other's successes and challenges."

Dr. Sekai Chedeya of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, emphasized the need for programs to appeal to a diverse range of clients when providing prevention education. "The most successful programs are the creative ones that make clients comfortable, and therefore more likely to stay connected to services. Small touches can make a big difference," said Dr. Chedeya.

Dr. Seth Kalichman, an originator of the Healthy Relationships Intervention, has been touring the country, evaluating agencies' implementation and adaptation of the program over the past 3 years. "Sharing with each other, making it work, making it fit, is where the action is."

ASC extends special thanks to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, NYS DOH, NYC DOHMH and CDC for their leadership in organizing this summit. For more information about ASC's education and training programs, contact Guy@ascnyc.org.

Photo: David Nager/ASCNYC

June 5, 2009

Diane Williams, Trainer, on Black Awareness Day

It's one thing to read about ASC's clients; it's another thing to see them. For the first time, you can now meet them at ASC's web photo gallery. In their faces, you'll see the strength, determination, and hope that inspires us all.

Nine out of ten ASC clients live in poverty. Many are homeless. All are affected by AIDS. ASC consistently delivers HIV prevention and care to New Yorkers in need. Check out the photo gallery and see the transformations come to life. ASC is proud of our efforts to make a difference, make life better, and ensure that New Yorkers have access to HIV testing and medical care.

Photo: David Nager/ASCNYC

June 5, 2009

Dario : We met in 1996. I was visiting my stepbrother. Monique was the head of the household where he lived.

Monique : We became friends, then we became lovers.

D : We've helped each other through some tough times.

M : We've bugged out together. Good times, bad times.

D : Arguments, too.

M : But we're here now, together. He's 31 now. I'm 43.

D : I first got tested for HIV when I joined Daytop Village for drug treatment. It was mandatory to get tested. When I got the results, I was shocked. My t-cells were 7. My jaw hit the floor. I had tears in my eyes. I wasn't aware of all the risks I had been taking.

Daytop asked if I had any significant others I wanted to inform. I told them about Monique, so they arranged a meeting where I would tell her. So we did it. I had very strong feelings when I was looking into her eyes telling her.

M : I was shocked. I didn't understand. We'd been such tight friends for so long. I wanted to know how he got it, what was happening outside our relationship. But I knew he needed support. That was the most important thing. And I was going to give it to him.

D : What's scary is that if I hadn't been required to get tested at Daytop, I wouldn't have gotten tested.

M : Now, we just take it day by day.

D : After I found out, I didn't take care of myself. It wasn't clicking.

M : He'd been in and out of the hospital. He barely weighed 90 pounds.

D : A Columbia Presbyterian doctor referred me to ASC for case management. My ASC caseworker, Millie, came to the hospital. That meant a lot to us.

M : ASC is like our family.

D : We get tested together about every six months. We do it as a couple, the same way we do everything as a couple.

M : For other couples where one partner's positive and the other is negative, I'd tell them, If you love the person and have been with them, just keep talking through the emotions and expressions. Get all the feelings out.

D : There's where depression comes from, when you can't express your feelings.

M : Tell the person you love them and will be there no matter what else is happening in your life.

D : There are so many what-ifs in a relationship even when you don't have to deal with this. There are so many doubts.

M : You think about, "Am I getting it?" You just have to put your cards on the table. If that's what you're thinking, you've got to get it out there somehow.

D : It's been almost 14 years for us. Sometimes I wonder how we've done it. I've grown so much from being with her.

M : I just deal with it. My mother died of cancer. My father died of natural causes. I dealt with that too. God is with us. You never what what's going to happen. You just have to take it straight ahead.

D : I don't know how she's been so strong.

M : My strength comes from you.

Photo: David Nager/ASCNYC

June 5, 2009

Senate Health Committee Chair Thomas K. Duane (D WFP, Manhattan)

With National HIV Testing Day approaching on June 27, consider this:

One in ten HIV+ women live in New York City. The Big Apple has three times the national average of people living with HIV/AIDS. And our city houses more AIDS cases than Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Washington DCcombined.

The bottom line is clear: The time to expand HIV testing and services is now.

With that in mind, ASC and other AIDS service organizations in New York have endorsed HIV testing legislation that will expand HIV testing, making it easier and more routine (links to ASC press release). "Far too many individuals learn of their HIV status concurrently with an AIDS diagnosis, and far too many persons are HIV infected and not aware of their status," said Sharen Duke, CEO of AIDS Service Center NYC.

"I am pleased that ASC is among the many diverse organizations working directly with New Yorkers infected with and affected by HIV, who recognize that this bill takes the best approach to increase testing, ensure early treatment for those who are HIV-positive and prevent new infections at this moment in the evolving epidemic," says Senator Thomas K. Duane, Health Committee Chair, and co-sponsor of the bill with Assemblyman Dick Gottfried.

National HIV Testing Day reminds us there's a long way to go to stop the epidemic. AIDS service agencies like ASC use multiple strategies to improve the care and treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS. ASC provides confidential rapid HIV testing, distributes free condoms, helps people with housing, and connects people to medical, mental health and drug treatment services.

Another of ASC's efforts to increase awareness and promote testing is our June 25 th fundraiser, Safer Sex in the City. This high-energy event promotes safer sex and well-being in the age of AIDS; Vivid Girl Savannah Samson is a co-host. "In my industry, everyone is comfortable saying that they've been tested. Unfortunately, in the rest of the world, this is something that still makes people uncomfortable," she says.

Other celebrities, including Cynthia Nixon, Pamela Anderson, Joy Behar, Margaret Cho, Flotilla DeBarge, Linda Eder, Ellie Krieger, Robert LaFosse, & Gloria Ruben have joined forces with ASC to bring the message of HIV prevention, testing, and treatment to all New Yorkers in need.

Photo: David Nager/ASCNYC

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