Posts Tagged ‘HIV test’

You got a kid in college, have you had “the” talk yet! What are you waiting for?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The holidays are finally over and we are well into the New Year! If you have a kid in high school or college, they’re probably returned to school. But while they were home did you take the time to talk to them in between the holiday shopping, family gatherings and all that food. You might think that since you have a child in college or in their final year of high school, you don’t have to talk to them about sex, BUT you do! Among teenagers, “only about one in five sexually active high school students has ever been tested for HIV, CDC researchers reported.” Teens and young adults are more than likely to practice unsafe sex (sex without a condom) and to have multiple sex partners. According to a report by the CDC, “young people aged 13-29 accounted for 39% of all new HIV infections in 2009. With regard to youth, HIV disportionately affects gay and bisexual men and young African Americans.”

With the numbers still climbing in HIV/STD infections mostly among youth, I started to think how many of my friends who have children that started their first year of college or entering their finally year of high school had the “sex” talk with their child. How many college freshmen went back to school with safe sex materials and condoms packed neatly among their care packages of cup of noodles, tuna fish and cookies. How many senior high school students started the New Year with a discussion on how to negiotate sex with their partner. These discussions are even more important for young women, who have the potential of being in a verbally or physically abusive relationship and are coerced into group sex. According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, “More than 7% of teen girls have engaged in multi-person sex, a new study reports – and half of them said they were threatened or forced into the act.” “For us, the most worrisome thing is that in 45 percent of the girls’ most recent MPS experience, at least one male had not used a condom,” Rothman said. “That’s a really high rate.”

Most schools are not prepared to address domestic violence much less are in the business of teaching safe sex education. The article later notes,“We need to find out more about how prevalent this is, because we need to get better information into the hands of parents, pediatricians and schools,” she said. “People need to know about what’s happening. And then be prepared to provide education and counseling.” Providing education and counseling is crucial for our youth, but more so for our young women. According to the report “AIDS at 30: Nations at the crossroads”, gender inequalities remain a major barrier to effective HIV response. ”HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age, and more than a quarter (26 percent) of all new global HIV infections are among young women aged 15-24,” it said.

The report also said that apart from women, HIV prevalence among homosexuals, people who inject drugs, sex workers and their clients and transgender people are higher than among other population.

With all the things you have to worry about including paying bills and making sure you have a roof over your head, you have to learn how to talk to your kid about not only having sex but also practicing safe sex. Teens are having sex at an earlier age and they are less prepared to handle the consequence of their actions. We can no longer hide our head in the sand and hope they figure this out on their own because statistics show they are not doing that. According to CDC’s 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), “many adolescents begin having sexual intercourse at early ages: 46.0% of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 5.9% reported first sexual intercourse before the age of 13. Of the 34.2% of students reporting sexual intercourse during the 3 months before the survey, 38.9% did not use a condom. And if young people are not practicing safe sex, they are more like to be infected with a sexualy transmitted disease (STD), which is a risk fact for HIV.” The CDC has estimated that young people account for up to half of the nation’s 19 million new STI infections each year. These rates are even higher among minority youths.  In regards to youth of color, many have older partners, which means young people are even more likely to be exposed to HIV and STIs. Compared with black and Latina peers whose first sex occurred with a male of their own age, young women whose partner was older were significantly less likely to use condoms during first sex, and to have used them consistently since becoming sexually active. Some factors that contribute to the high infection of HIV/STDs among young of color, specifically African American youth, are racism and its connection to underemployment and unemployment, decreased access to medical care, and  incarceration according to an article written by Jennifer Augustine and Emily Bridges, “Young People and HIV: A Realistic Approach to Prevention.” They further state, For young people of color who become sexually active, the deck is stacked against them in terms of maintaining their sexual health. HIV prevention efforts, which teach healthier behaviors like using condoms, are still vital, but are only a part of a successful prevention strategy. Addressing other factors which contribute to the spread of HIV is important.”

So, as a parent, guardian, sibling or concerned friend or family member what can you do to help encourage healthier behaviors towards sex.

  • Talk to children before they hit their teens helps them to develop a healthy and responsible view on sex. Be open to a dialogue and respect their opinions.
  • Teach them to respect and love themselves and nurture their self -esteem. A person’s healthy self-esteem goes a long way in developing good decision-making skills.
  • Let them know there is nothing wrong with waiting to have sex but if they decide differently or are already having sex then its is crucial that they practice safe sex. No one likes to think that his or her child, sibling or younger relative is having sex but it happens.
  • Share positive messages about sexuality and the healthy role it can play in our lives.
  • Find teachable moments when discussions about sexuality fit naturally into everyday conversation.
  • Spend quality time with your child and get to know their friends and partners.

Dealing with issues around sex and sexuality with a young person can be overwhelming but there are resources and organizations available to help. The CDC provides a wealth of information on risky sexual behavior as well as the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has created several reports and studies on HIV & Youth. There are also a number of organizations across the country that address the increasing HIV rates among youth, such as Advocates for Youth and the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and among young women of color there is Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Collaborative , Iris House and SisterLove. In addition, there are several national HIV/AIDS organizatons that address issues around youth, sex and HIV, such as the The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Latino Commission on AIDS, and the National Minority AIDS Coalition. All the above-mentioned resources and organizations also address HIV among young gay and bisexual men, but there are specific places to go to such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Last year, Clutch Magazine published the article, 10 Black Women Teaching Us About Sex, which provided a wealth of information, food for thought and good ole’ fashion advice. Lastly, if you can’t find or make use of any of the above-mentioned resources, start a safe sex education group or HIV/AIDS ministry in your church. The Balm in Gilead, develops educational and training programs specifically designed to meet the unique needs of African American and African congregations that strive to become community centers for health education and disease prevention. They can work with your Pastor and church to provide the necessary tools, support and resources to create an effective program.

Getting your kids off to a healthy start in life is not just your responsibility but that of the entire community but the first step starts with you. Have that talk, what are you waiting for?

National HIV Testing Day!

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Monday is National HIV Testing Day

PictureNational HIV Testing Day (NHTD), Monday, June 27, is an annual observance to promote HIV testing. The National Association of People with AIDS(NAPWA) founded the day in 1995 and continues to be the lead for this observance.

This year National HIV Testing Day falls between two major dates:

• June 5, 2011 – 30 years since the CDC’s MMWRreported the first cases of AIDS; and,
• July 13, 2011 – the one year anniversary of the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

This is a particularly important time for YOU to get involved! Take the Test, Take Control.

Use this link to find the HIV testing site nearest to you.

Visit AIDS United’s blog on Monday to read blogs from staff about the importance of NHTD.

National Black AIDS Awareness Events & Testing Sites

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Events will be happening all month long throughout New York City and around the country!

From the Black AIDS Day website:

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7th of every year, is a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatmentEducationally, the focus is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV/AIDS in their local communities. Testing is at the core of this initiative, as it is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7th of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV. This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV. When it comes to community and organization leadership, getting Blacks involved to serve is another key focus. We need Black People from all walks of life, economic classes, literacy levels, shades and tones as well as communities (large and small) to get connected to the work happening on the ground in their local areas. And lastly, for those living with HIV or newly testing positive for the virus, getting them connected to treatment and care services becomes paramount.

Bronx BLHC Adolescent & Young Adult Health Program,
Seeromanie Baboolall,
Social Worker
2737 Third Avenue
Bronx, New York 10451

O: 718-838-1029
F: 718-838-1016

  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing

Bronx Project Grow/Yeshiva University
Janet Smith,
260 East 16th Street, C Level
Bronx, New York 10451

O: 718-993-3397
F: 718-993-2460

  • Other: Fact-o-mania Breakfast, Information, Games, Testing Referral and Education. Come get armed for the fight of your life.

Bronx Christ Church UCC
Rev. Bruce C. Rivera,
Executive Minister
860 Forest Avenue
Bronx, New York 10456

O: 718-665-6688
F: 718-665-5450

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing

Bronx Bronx AIDS Service
SoJourner McCauley,

Community Services Coordinator
540 East Fordham Road
Bronx, New York 10458

  • Other:  We will be hosting a Singles Mixer for 21 & Over entitled “Sex, Milk and Cookies” This event will be a fun filled event with Speed Dating, Raffles and the Dating Game with
  • HIV prevention messages and information throughout the evening.  Light refreshments will be provided.

Bronx Montefiore Medical Center
Frances Rodriguez,

Patient Educator
111 East 210th Street
AIDS Center FCC-3rd Floor Clinic
Bronx, New York 10467

  • Art Competition
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Webcast

Bronx Soundview Health Care Network
Marzetta Harris,

Board of Director
731 White Plains Road
Bronx, New York 10472

  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing
  • March/Rally
  • Other:  breakfast with the churches.

Brooklyn St. Paul Community Baptist Church Glinnie Noel-Chamble,
Director – Social Justice
859 Hendrix Street
Brooklyn, New York 11207

O: 718-257-1300, x138
F: 718-535-0449

Brooklyn Caribbean Women’s Health Education, Inc.
Ann Marie Coore,
Director of HIV Program
3512 Church Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11203

O: 718-940-9501
F: 718-826-2948

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • HIV Testing
  • Other: HIV Workshop and education on site. condom negotiation skills and condom demonstration

Brooklyn Amethyst Women’s Project
Melisa Garber,

Peer Coordinator
1907 Mermaid Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11224

  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing

Brooklyn God’s Deliverance for Purpose Ministry Evangelist Robin Brown,Minister
731 Chauncey Street
Brooklyn, New York 11207

O: 347-394-6696
F: 917-591-5436

  • Community Forum
  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing

Brooklyn Turning Point
Margarita Ramos,
HIV Education Coordinator & Trainer
5220 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11220

O: 718-360-8121
F: 718-360-3965

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: Providing HIV prevention education presentations & FREE HIV Testing & Counseling for high-risk homeless African American youth (16-25) & young adults in 30-day emergency shelter & transitional housing sites in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Additional Information: Will also be in collaborations with other CBOs to commemorate NBHAAD by providing prevention education and FREE HIV Counseling & Testing.

Brooklyn Watchful Eye
Divinah “Dee” Bailey,
20 New York Avenue, Suite 100
Brooklyn, New York 11216

O: 347-533-4300

  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Mayoral Proclamation
  • Newspaper Article
  • Press Conference
  • Radio Broadcast
  • TV/Cable Programming
  • Other: Mural signing and red ribbon banner unveiling.
  • Additional Information: This event will be in collaboration with the Medgar Evers College (CUNY) of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn La Nueva Esperanza, Inc.
Rico Nieves,
MSA Program Coordinator
213 Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11206

O: 718-497-7592
F: 718-497-7596

  • HIV Testing
  • Newspaper Article
  • Public Service Announcement

Brooklyn Brooklyn Community Pride Center Alicia or Danielle,
Social Work Intern
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

O: 718-802-3890 

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: Guest Speakers

Brooklyn The Community Help Center, Inc.
Erlene King,
5221 Avenue D
Brooklyn, New York 11203

O: 347-298-6393
F: 347-382-7265

  • Community Forum

Brooklyn Top Development Corporation
Ujima AIDS Project
1274 Utica Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11203

  • HIV Testing
  • HIV Testing done by BATF.

Buffalo The MOCHA Center
Stephaun Wallace,

Interim Executive Director/Director of Programs
1092 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14209

  • Art Competition
  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Newspaper Article
  • Press Conference
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Radio Broadcast
  • Other:  Performing and visual arts event Monday, February 7, 2011 Program begins at 2-5 pm Cocktail hour from 5-7pm (Cash Bar)

Farrockaway Redemption Outreach International
Rev Ambrose Chalokwu,
14-25 Central Avenue, Suite 4
Farrockaway, New York 11691

O: 347-654-5062
F: 718-868-8321

  • Community Forum
  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing
  • Newspaper Article
  • Press Conference
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Radio Broadcast
  • Other: Distribution of Educational and preventive materials as strategic locations from Wednesday  Feb. 9 to Friday Feb 11.
  • We will have essay/poetry competition for the youth on HIV/AIDS topics.

Ithaca Ithaca College LGBT Center
L Maurer,
LGBT Center
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, New York 14850

O: 607-274-7394 

  • Community Health Fair
  • Newspaper Article
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Radio Broadcast

Manhattan Harlem Flava
Dolina Duzant,

620 Lenox Avenue 1E
Manhattan, New York N10037

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Other:  Handing out condoms Male and Female, Street Outreach and education.

Manhattan Latino CommissionAIDS
Ileana Morales,

Program Director
24 West 25th Street, 9th Floor
Manhattan, New York 10010

  • HIV Testing
  • Other:  We will be offering HIV testing all day at our site until 7:00pm. We will also be at St. Paul’s Church at 263 West 86th street providing HIV testing.

New York AIDS Service Center
Jean Pierre Louis,
Program Manager
41 E 11th St 5th Floor
New York, New York 10003

O: 212-645-0875
F: 212-645-0705

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: CBO Event

New York Exponents
Donald R. Powell,
Director of Development
151 West 26th Street,
Third Floor
New York, New York 10001-6810

O: 212-243-3434, ext. 145
F: 212-243-3586

  • Community Forum
  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing
  • Other: Displaying of AIDS Quilt

New York National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Theatre Initiative
Yvette Heyliger,
Producing Artist Twinbiz
Post Office Box 1803
New York, New York 10026

O: 212-864-1611
F: 212-864-6845

  • Other: National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Theatre Initiative is an annual event taking place on February 7th featuring readings and productions of plays about HIV & AIDS with the purpose of using theatre to fight the  relentless and ongoing infection rate in our communities!
  • Other: This is a brand new theatre initiative inspired by a mentor of mine who expressed his wish to me that Black theatre do more to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities.  We are kicking off the initiative this year with a reading of my award winning play, “What Would Jesus Do?” in Los Angeles.  We hope to gain support for National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Theatre Initiative with more play readings and productions registered next year.

New York SisterLink
Maryam Hmudeen,
Program Associate
127 West 127th St. 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10027

O: 212-665-2600, x307
F: 212-531-2160

  • Other: HIV testing location resource and information.

New York Metro Health & Wellness Center Yvonne Hartnett,
Program Coordinator
45 East 126th Street
1975 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10035

O: 646-682-9476 or 212-289-6157
F: 212-289-6823

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: February 6, 2011, Our service will be dedicated to those living with or affected by this disease.
  • Additional Information:  We will do testing after church service.

New York Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children & Family Services
Yolanda Colon,
Program Support Aide
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd Specialized Services,
3rd Floor
New York, New York 10027

O: 212-749-3656, ext 3105
F: 212-749-0614

  • Community Health Fair
  • HIV Testing

New York Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center Monique Wright,
Prevention Services Coordinator
25 Allen Street
New York, New York 10002

O: 212-226-6333
F: 212-343-8005

  • Candlelight Vigil
  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing
  • Other: We run various support groups for people who are HIV+. We are planning on having an ad hoc group “Supporting people with HIV!”

New York Can’t Be Silenced
Maria Davis,
121 W. 115th Street # 505
New York, New York 10026

O: 212-866-1562
F: 212-866-1562

  • HIV Testing
  • Other: New Artist Showcase & Talent Competition

New York First Corinthian Baptist Church
Maria Davis, Co-Convener
1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
New York, New York 10026

O: 212-864-5975
F: 212-864-0830

  • HIV Testing
  • TV/Cable Programming
  • Other: Mad Wednesday’s New Artist Showcase & Talent Competition @”SHRINE”
  • World Music Venue in Harlem

New York Claremont Family Health Center Dorothy Johnson,
Medical Case Manager
262-4 E 174th St Bronx,
New York, New York 10457

O: 718-299-6910
F: 718-299-4366

  • Other: Seminar and individual sessions providing information

New York Black Men’s Initiative at Harlem United
Raynal Jabouin, Jr.,

Program Director
290 Lenox Avenue
Lower Level
New York, New York 10027

212-289-2378, x206
  • HIV Testing

New York William F Ryan Community Health Center
Cinthia M. Tejada,

Supervising Health Educator
110 W 97th Street
New York, New York 10025

  • Community Forum
  • HIV Testing

New York New York Presbyterian Hospital- Comprehensive HIV Program
Kareen B. Jimenez,

Patient Education
180 Fort Washington Avenue
6th Floor
New York, New York 10032

  • HIV Testing

Hot Summer Sex, Hook Ups and Protecting Yourself Is Easy!!!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

The summer is almost over and it’s been a hot one. Heat and sex seem to go hand in hand especially when it comes to causal sex. It’s easy to hookup with someone after an informal dinner, while at the club or at a friend’s BBQ. But, if you’re not careful, hooking up can be dangerous! Those who are hooking up or just having causal sex are more than likely sharing or overlapping sexual partners. In the article by Linda Villarosa, The Dark Side of Hookups, “Friends With Benefits” and F— Buddies, “These partnerships can speed the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. Paik says. “With sequential partnerships, the disease has to wait before it can spread. Between relationships, for example, a bacterial infection can be treated. With overlapping relationships, the disease doesn’t have to wait.” When you are hooking up with several different partners and not practicing safe sex, you have a greater chance of becoming infected. It’s not always easy to remember to use a condom while in the heat of the moment.  Therefore, being prepared is crucial to protecting your sexual health. Carrying condoms, is not cocky, it’s smart! It’s better to have a condom and not use it if you don’t need it, then to be caught without one when you really need it. No longer can we make assumptions about a person’s status by just eyeballing them. The tell tale signs of someone being positive rarely exist now. You won’t know just by looking at someone or assuming that because he or she is cute then they couldn’t be infected.

One good way to protect yourself, is to always use a condom when having sex. A percentage of people who become infected usually got it by another person who didn’t know they were infected. Condom use can be one of the best ways to protect yourself. Knowing your own status is also important in not only protecting yourself, but protecting your sexual partner. As noted in the article, in regards to the high infection rates in D.C., “Nearly 50 percent of people surveyed in its hardest-hit areas reported having overlapping sexual partners in the last 12 months. Most were not aware of either their own HIV status or that of their partner, and the vast majority said that they did not use a condom the last time they had sex with their main partner, even though they were aware that the relationship might not be monogamous. This deadly mix explains why a Black woman, for example, who doesn’t “sleep around” might contract HIV, while someone else engaged in frequent episodes of unprotected sex might not become infected.” Taking a HIV test is now considered one of the best prevention methods against becoming infected. Assuming that one test positive then they can get treatment and learn how to care for themselves as well as prevent infecting someone else by not spreading the virus from one person to another. And, if they test negative, then they learn to stay negative through preventive measures and condom use.

Practicing safe sex is easier said than done. It’s no easier than staying off salt, not drinking too much or watching your weight when all your favorite foods are available. These are all things that we struggle with, but not taking the proper precautions can be dangerous and in some cases deadly. Its takes practice, a concerted effort and a commitment to be healthy, the same goes for your sexual health when you practice safe sex. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth, cleaning your house or watching your weight. Keep a condom on you for those special unexpected encounters. If you are having casual sex, make sure your sexual partner(s) gets tested. Get tested with them, if it will make them feel more comfortable and less stigmatized. If they are not willing to get tested or provide information on their status, they might not be the person you wanna have sex with. Its is also important for you to be tested and provide information on your own status. To find an HIV testing location in your area, visit

Whether it’s a holiday weekend, a hot Summer night or a beautiful Fall evening, always be prepared. High and low risk sex is all the same when it comes to HIV and STDs. Every time you have unprotected sex, you are at risk of getting infected.  It only takes one careless moment to change your life. Wrap it up and be safe.

Having the “SEX” conversation with your parents

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

If you are like me, you may only have one living parent or your parents might be divorced. Either way, they may be newly single, dating and engaging in sexual relationships years after being with the same partner. Many older Americans are not aware, much less concerned about practicing safe sex despite the changing sexual landscape. The development of Viagra and other ED (erectile dysfunction) drugs has made it easier for seniors to celebrate and express their sexuality, which is the upside to ED drugs. But there is a downside, as described in the article, Men of ED drugs get more STDs, “Men prescribed drugs for erectile dysfunction are two to three times more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly HIV or chlamydia, than men who are not prescribed ED treatments, researchers report.”

As a result of these ED drugs, many senior men are now able to have a lot of sex with women their own age, but they are also engaging in sexual relationships with younger women, even with teenage girls, mostly in exchange for money, clothes or basic affection. In addition, older women are also having relationships with younger men, who themselves maybe offering sex in exchange for money or clothes. In this landscape of sexual freedom, most seniors don’t practice safe sex and are not familiar with HIV/AIDS awareness. According to the previously mentioned article by Katrina Woznicki from WebMD Health News, “Earlier research has found that people aged 50 and older are one-sixth less likely to use a condom and one-fifth less likely to be tested for HIV compared with people in their 20s.”

Therefore, many AIDS organizations are rushing to work with senior centers to provide safe sex information and HIV/AIDS education. But, more needs to be done as infection rates increase. A wide spread effort is needed that incorporates the church, family and healthcare providers. Doctors should be managing and assessing the sexual health risks and sexual activity of their older patients, including testing them for HIV. A similar discussion about sexual health risks can be held with the Women and Men ministries along with other church groups with the assistance of organizations like Balm in the Gilead and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, two organizations that already have established relationships with the Black church. Finally, adult children should talk to their parents as soon or even before they start dating about the importance of condom use and the practice of safe sex. The same “sex” talk that was hard for them will also be hard for you but will be necessary in protecting your parent’s sexual health.

We can’t leave our seniors out of the discussion, when they need us the most to provide guidance, love and support. Have that talk with your mother or father,let them know you care. It will be one of the hardest talks but could be the most rewarding.

Women, Girls & HIV: Why Stella Has To Watch How She Gets Her Groove On!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

In addition to being Women’s History Month, March also hosted National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10th. Events were organized around the country by national and local community groups and AIDS organizations throughout the month. According to,” National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is a nationwide initiative celebrated on March 10 every year to raise awareness of the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.” It also notes that, “Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. More and more women have become infected with HIV since it was first reported in the early 1980s. Today, about 1 in 4 Americans living with HIV are women. It’s time for women to get tested.” In addition to the information above, the website also made it possible to view all events scheduled around the country, allowed one to send free e-cards and locate HIV/AIDS resources.

One would wonder why such a national event was important or necessary, well despite all the public awareness campaigns the infection rates of women, especially women of color, are still increasing. In 2005, women represented 26 percent of new AIDS diagnoses, compared to only 11 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 1990. Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual contact and injection drug use. Women of color are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34.

Until the infection rates of women drop significantly, all and every effort is necessary to send the message that women need to protect themselves and be tested. In my effort to stay aware, I attended a few events during the month. One was hosted by the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition in NYC at the New Lots Public Library in Brooklyn. I took away a lot of good information from this event. It was noted that we all must treat everybody that we encounter as someone who has something we can catch. And although, that seems harsh and even paranoid, think about the times you got sick from someone at work who had a cold or the flu and wouldn’t stay home and get better. The same happens in sexual relationships, people have unprotected sex knowingly or not that they are infected or have an STD and pass what they have on to you.  It certainly doesn’t mean treating someone like a leper, but what it does mean is that an once of prevention can make a big difference in how you live out the rest of your life. Being safe is much better than being sorry!!!

Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition HIV/AIDS awareness day event

Another point that was extremely significant was the importance of teaching young women how to be financial stable and independent. Young women need to develop marketable job skills, acquire work experience, learn how to write a resume and get a good education. It would seem like common sense for some but when young women are financially dependent on someone else they tend to compromise their themselves for money and security. Most young women who become infected are not from men of their own age but by much older men. If they are thrown out the house or desire material objects they become dependent and vulnerable to older men who take advantage of them. It’s not uncommon for a girl 14yrs old to be sexually involved with a man more than twice her age. Teaching young women critical thinking and survival skills increases their chance of becoming financially stable and less likely to be involved in a sexually abusive relationship.

Another event, “Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with,” was held on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall and hosted by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The stairs leading to the entrance of Borough Hall was filled with dolls representing all ethnicities and races with notes on the stating who they were Several presenters including the NYC Comptroller John Liu and the President of GMHC, Marjorie Hill spoke.

Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with

"Women are not dolls, their lives are not to be played with"

The last event was Well & Aware: Women and Girls Taking Charge of their Lives, Responding and Reflecting on HIV/AIDS at the National Black Theater in Harlem. This event was sponsored by The Partnership for Family Health: Northern Manhattan HIV Consortium (PFFH), a program of Public Health Solutions and Harlem community partners such as Iris House, Harlem United Community AIDS Center, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and Sister Link/Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership (NMPP), as well as other. Funding was received from the HHS/Office of Women’s Health. This was a huge event that offered everything from HIV testing, STI screening and Blood pressure screenings to massages, make overs and a safe sex workshop. All the community sponsors tabled the event and provided materials from their organizations along gifts and the usual safe sex kits. It was packed by what some of the organizers noted was the power of social networking. C.Viriginia Fields, President of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS provided the Keynote Address. Community Advocate and AIDS activist Michelle Lopez and Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director of the Iris House were also scheduled to speak. In my many years of attending workshops, panel discussions and community events this had one of the largest turnouts and was the most interactive. There was a lot to see, do and hear. And was happy to see folks into it.

I bring these events up and the importance of the National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day because it reminds us that we are still in a state of crisis and that we must stay vigilant outside of these national awareness days. When the women at the GMHC rally yelled, “Women are not dolls, our lives are nothing to play with,” they meant it. Now we all need to stop playing with our lives and get real about protecting it.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Friday, March 12th, 2010

March 10, 2010 – National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
This month we are highlighting National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Black women represent an alarming 65% of the total number of women currently living with HIV/AIDS in the US, and are 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than white women. NYC continues to lead the nation in the number of reported AIDS cases among 13-24 year olds.

Visit YWCHAC’s (Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition) website to see what we are doing in our community. Visit

What Can You Do?

  • Get tested for HIV.
  • To find a testing site center near you, text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948).
  • Talk with your health care provider about your risks for HIV.

Get the facts about HIV/AIDS including:

  • The risk factors for acquiring HIV.
  • How to avoid high-risk behaviors.
  • How to practice safer methods to prevent HIV.

* Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.
* Invite friends to join the cause.
* Volunteer at a local organization that serves people living with HIV.
* Attend an event near you.
* Learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS among women in the United States.
* Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
* Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations like YWCHAC.

Self Love Is The New Sexy – Knowing Your Status Is Power!

For more information, visit the following sites:

Upcoming Events

5th Annual Women As The Face of AIDS Summit

The 5th Annual Women As The Face of AIDS Summit is only 4 months away. This year’s event has been expanded to 2 days -Thursday, June 24 & Saturday, June 26 to coincide with National HIV Testing Day. It promises to be two wonderful days of informative sessions and exciting topics such as parenting while positive, the impact of incarceration on HIV rates, housing stability, mental health & treatment adherence, what the faith based communities are doing and much more. Saturday’s Community Awareness Day will include free health screenings and giveaways for members of the community. Once again the summit will take place at the New York Academy of Medicine. Please visit our website for updates or contact Kimberly Richardson at 646 548-0100 ext. 221 or for more details.


Iris House served over 1400 women in 2009; encouraging both women and girls to get tested. We conducted 2171 Rapid HIV test and distributed over a million condoms.

Iris House will recognize this important day by participating in an event sponsored by the Partnership for Family Health taking place at the National Black Theater located at 2031 5th Avenue (between 125th & 126th) on Friday, March 12th from 5pm -10pm. They will provide HIV testing, substance abuse and mental health screenings.

Sponsored in part by: NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn


On Tuesday, March 16, Iris House in collaboration with the Black Women’s Health Imperative is co-sponsoring a community forum exploring the link between heart disease and HIV. This event targeting HIV+ women will be held at the New York Academy of Medicine from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Speakers include Dr. Monica Sweeney of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Anna LeMon, MPH, of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Shirley Alves, R.D., Director of Nutrition Services at Iris House and an afternoon breathing and relaxation demonstration by Terri Kennedy, motivational speaker. Lunch will be provided. If you would like more information or to RSVP contact Shirley Alves at 646-548-0100 *201.

To learn more about these events and future activities visit us at House, Inc.
2348 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10030
Tel: 646 548-01000
Fax: 646 548-0200

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Activities

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

February 7, 2010 marks the tenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). This is a national community mobilization, HIV testing, and treatment initiative, which promotes awareness of, and access to, services for African Americans. The theme for NBHAAD 2010 is “A Choice & A Lifestyle.”

Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 49 percent of AIDS cases. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34, and the second leading cause of death for Black men ages 35 to 44.

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).  HIV remains a persistent threat to the health, well-being, and human potential of many African American communities. As the impact of the epidemic among African Americans has grown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health agencies, and African American communities have stepped up efforts to address the crisis.

NBHAAD is planned, organized and coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council*, a working group of national organizations in partnership with CDC. NBHAAD activities focus on motivating individuals to get tested and know their HIV status, and educating community members about the importance of HIV prevention, early detection, and treatment.

CDC is highly committed to reducing the impact of HIV on African American communities. CDC believes that a collaborative response by many is necessary to decrease the burden of HIV/AIDS among African Americans.  Therefore, CDC and African American leaders from business, civil rights, entertainment, government, and the media are speaking out and taking action. With these partners, CDC is intensifying HIV prevention efforts in four areas: expanding the reach of comprehensive prevention programs; increasing opportunities for HIV testing and treatment; developing new, effective prevention strategies; and mobilizing broader community action.

It is necessary for African Americans to receive the information they need to protect their health and the health of their loved ones, and to get involved in their communities.  When people affected and infected by HIV take collective action against the spread of this disease, we form a very powerful weapon. Together we can prevent HIV/AIDS, one voice, one experience, one community at a time!

What Can You Do?

  • Learn About HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself, friends, and family about HIV/AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself.
  • Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, visit, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
  • Speak Out against stigma, homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
  • Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations that work within African American communities.
Events in Brooklyn

Friday, February 5th
National black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, United Community Baptist Church, 2701 Mermaid Ave, 11 A.M. – 4 P.M.. HIV Testing, Demonstrations, Resources and Information. For more information contact Shayoya Brown at 718-333-2067

Sunday, February 7th
Pre-Conference Evening of Praise and Awareness, LIU Brooklyn Campus, 1 University Plaza, Dekalb and Flatbush Ext, Brooklyn, 4:00 p.m. Testing, Outreach, and Prevention Initiative, For more information contact Watchful Eye TOP Initiative at 347-533-4300

Monday, February 8th
Brooklyn Commemorates National Black AIDS Awareness Day, Brooklyn College Student Center, 2901 Campus Road and East 27th Street, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.. Brooklyn Red Ribbon Campaign, Brooklyn HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, “Brooklyn Knows” Roll Out. For more information and to register contact Dana Burnett at 718-773-3874 or

Friday, February 12th
Heart To Heart – Love Yourself, Love Your Family Family Resource Center, 100 Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd Floor, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Free HIV Testing and Health Screenings, Food Stamp Screenings, Financial Counseling and Advice, Free Income Tax Filing, Raffle Prizes and Refreshments. For more information contact Christopher Joseph, 212-645-344 ext 136

Saturday, February 13th
During the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 10:00 A.M., Senator John Sampson and Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns will host a workshop entitled “The Saga Continues: A Dialogue on HIV/AIDS and the Impact on Communities of Color.” The workshop will be facilitated by Watchful Eye Founder Dee Bailey. All Watchful Eye Community Partners and their clients/program participants are invited and encouraged to attend this event.” For more information, contact Gwen Carter 347-533-4300 or .

Wednesday, February 24th
“Age is No Barrier” to HIV/AIDS! Did you know that in New York State, 14 percent of AIDS cases are among individuals age 50 and over, and of all the people age 50 and over with AIDS, more than half are of African or Latino descent?

The Brooklyn Regional Committee of the AIDS Institute’s Faith Communities Project invites you to a community dialogue and fellowship to discuss and to learn “What Congregations need to know about HIV/AIDS and Older Adult.” Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson, Senior Pastor of the Church of God of East Flatbush, will host the program on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at the church, located at 409 East 95th Street, between Whilmohr Street & Lenox Road from, 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Dinner will be provided. Please share the enclosed flyer and directions to the church with your colleagues and encourage them to attend.

Pre-registration is required to prepare materials and to confirm the food order. To register, please contact Ron Derway at 800-692-8528, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. The registration deadline is February 22nd.

The Regional Planning Committee encourages you to join with the community in dialogue and learn what we can do to support older adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and to stop the spread of HIV. Please contact Carol Tyrell, Coordinator of the Faith Communities Project, at 518-473-2300, if you have any questions about the Project

Friday, February 26th,
FREE Youth Safer Sex Party – for Youth ages 15-24 years old
2010-02-26 6:00Pm-11:00pm
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY
Keep the Cold out and the HEAT in!
The HEAT Program, in conjunction with the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) & FACES is sponsoring a Safer Sex Party for all youth ages 15-24 on Friday, February 26, 2010 from 6-11 pm at
The Lab Nightclub
1428 Fulton Street
Brooklyn ( bet Thompkins & Brooklyn Aves)

FREE and open to all youth
Free Food, DJ & Giveaways
Safer Sex Awarness and Resources
Free HIV rapid Testing Available

Direction: #C Train to Kingston & Throop Aves
Bus: B25 or B44 to Fulton and Thompkins Ave

Sunday, February 28th
Brother *2* Brother – Domestic Violence & HIV/AIDS in the Brotherhood, Canticles Lounge, 207 Lewis Avenue, (Corner of Lewis & Lexington), Brooklyn 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Males Only age 15 and over. Free HIV testing, refreshments provided. For more information contact Rev. Dr. Waterman (347)332-9027, Rev. Dr. Whitney (718) 622-0557, or Rev. John (718)771-8061

Events in Manhattan

Friday, February 19th
Join the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) at its’ General Quarterly Meeting featuring a panel discussion on
The Role of Media in HIV Prevention for Young Women of Color
Friday, February 19th, 10:00am-2:00pm
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
434 West 33rd Street, Penthouse
Btwn. 9th & 10th Avenues
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
To register go to

Directions to 434 West 33rd Street by Subway:
The closest trains are the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, to 34th Street

Saturday, February 20th
The Road Less Traveled,
Second Providence Baptist Church, 11-13 West 116th Street, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Continental Breakfast and Lunch. Testing will be provided.. RSVP by contacting: Rev Wilson – , Rev. Leudo – , or Rev. Kennedy –

AIDS Community Worries About Growing Infection Rate Among Young People

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Now that we are more than a month past World AIDS Day, issues around HIV and AIDS seems to have slip out of our consciousness. But for one group, particularly in urban areas like NYC and D.C., AIDS is a constant reminder of how vulnerable we all can be. The recent article, “With World AIDS Day Brings Renewed Focus on Youth”, describes the increasing fear over the growing rate of infection among the youth. In many communities of color, poor and working class teenagers and young adults have the highest infection rates in the country. As reported by the NYC Dept of Health, in 2003, 48% of all NYC public high school students reported having sex, and 17% of public high school students have had sex with 4 or more partners. According to the article, “People ages 15-24 account for about 45% of all new HIV infections, with an estimated 5.5 million young people living with HIV globally. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 46,000 people ages 13-24 were living with HIV in the U.S in 2006. Among African-American youth the infection rates are even bleaker. Young African-American adults are disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 60% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 13-to 24-year-olds in 2006.”  That is an alarmingly high percentage and should have parents, every youth organization, educational institution and church group ringing the alarms. We claim to be a society that cherishes and even worships our young but when it comes to sex education, awareness and HIV. We leave them to figure it out on their own.

How difficult is it to understand that we have no future as a community, if the majority of our youth are becoming infected with this extremely preventable disease. And despite the continued advances with HIV meds, the longer a person is infected the greater strain the disease puts on one’s body.  If it’s not the virus itself that cause’s one’s demise, then it’s the illnesses that develop as a result of a weakened immune system.  Assuming, one is taking their medication.  As noted in the article, “Some studies have reported that young people with HIV/AIDS often fail to regularly adhere to their medication regiment. Young HIV/AIDS patients also sometimes engage in risky behavior, posing serious health risks for them and for transmitting the virus to others. Young people have a lot of information on the internet and other places,” Clemons says. “It’s a part of adolescent to feel invulnerable and that nothing can happen to me.”

And unless, there is a cure, there is no miracle drug that lessens the end result. Therefore, it’s crucial to educate and protect our youth. It is vital that they understand that AIDS is a preventable disease. Abstinence is certainly a good choice for most youth to practice but for those who choose to have sex, they should be able to learn about the pleasures as well as the risks so they can make healthy choices with their partners. And condom use is an important part of that discussion. Youth must learn and appreciate how crucial condoms are in practicing safe sex. And if there is NO glove, then there’s NO love. Ok, so that was a little corny but you get the point.

Which brings me to my next point, how the message is told. Don’t create AIDS awareness campaigns for 30 and 40 year olds and think teens and young adults will relate to it. The message must be culturally and ethnically sensitive as well as age appropriate. What works for young African Americans may not work for other youth of color. Black people don’t all come from the same experience and cultural background any more than Latinos or Asians do.

Peer to peer training and education is probably the most crucial and well proven method of preventing the spread of HIV. has a web page entitled, Introduction to HIV and AIDS education, which explains “HIV and AIDS education can take place in many different environments, from classes at school to families and friends sharing knowledge at home. It is important that this education is provided in a variety of settings to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society are reached, and that accurate information about HIV and AIDS is reinforced from different sources.” In New York City, there is Teatro El Puente, the first and longest running HIV/AIDS educational theater group. The company was the first educational AIDS theater company for adolescents in New York City. Teatro’s actors (ages 16-21) are all bilingual (Spanish and English). Other peer to peer AIDS education groups exist throughout the United States and around the world. UNICEF has produced a video highlighting their peer to peer AIDS education program. These programs work and are successful despite being underfunded or de-funded as many programs have in New York City.

Other methods that have been successful is the use of dance, music and video. Check out the Regret Free public service announcements (PSAs) These PSAs were created to celebrate people who live a regret free life when it comes to their sexual lifestyle choices. LIFEBeat, uses music as a tool to educate and inform. . LIFEbeat is dedicated to reaching America’s youth with the message of HIV/AIDS prevention.  LIFEbeat mobilizes the talents and resources of the music industry to raise awareness and to provide support to the AIDS community.

There are several different ways to get the education but the most important thing is to get the education. HIV and AIDS education needs to motivate people by making them aware that what they are learning is relevant to their lives. Empowerment is also crucial, as people must be in a position where they are able to take control of their sexual behavior or methods of drug use. Given the huge numbers of deaths that might still be prevented, the importance of effective education cannot be overestimated. We must make a way to save our youth, now!

Dr. King, Coretta Scott King and the continued fight for justice

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Monday, Jan. 18th marked the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15th) and a national day of service. Many of you have heeded President Obama’s call to service without reservation.

As we celebrate, honor and reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Black AIDS Institute asks, What Would Martin Do? In an article written by Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, he states “Dr. King would be leading a movement against the war and for creating jobs, passing meaningful health-care legislation, educating our young and protecting our environment. And yes, just as he stood up for the sanitation workers, Dr. King would be passionate about HIV/AIDS. There is no question that ending the AIDS epidemic would be at the top of his agenda. And because it would be at the top of his agenda, it would be at the top of our agenda.”

Phill Wilson believes, as well as I, that Dr. King would have been a significant leader in the struggle to end AIDS.  And though, Dr. King was not able to contribute to this movement, his wife was a strong advocate of the AIDS community.

In a speech she gave at the Metropolitan Community Foundation’s Circles Of Hope Dinner in 2002, she says “As my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny,” … “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of all reality.”

Later, she states, “To eradicate AIDS, we must give our medical researchers and scientists all of the support they need to find the cure. But we must first and foremost cure our own hearts of the fear and ignorance that leads to ostracism of people with HIV and AIDS.”

Mrs. King was a vocal opponent against injustice. She was heard speaking out against capital punishment and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  She also supported lesbian and gay rights and as demonstrated above, an ardent supporter of HIV and AIDS education and prevention. 

We are still struggling with many of the issues that Mrs. and Dr. King attempted to address. And we must continue to defend and protect human rights, especially as it relates to the fight for decent housing, equal job opportunities, education and healthcare. We, as a community of world citizens, must also fight against homelessness, poverty, hunger and the spread of AIDS.

His legacy as well as Mrs. King will live on with our continued effort to fight against injustice and stand for the rights of all!