The LIAAC Blog

News and thoughts from the Long Island Association for AIDS Care

December 21, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on World AIDS Day at Stony Brook University

World AIDS Day at Stony Brook University

By: Melissa Colleary

World AIDS Day, an initiative intended to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to support those living with HIV, is celebrated annually on December 1st. This year, LIAAC co-hosted an event with Stony Brook University’s LGBTQ* and Student Health Advisory Committee. This event took place on December 1st from 12 to 9 p.m. in the Sidney Gelber Auditorium.

Throughout the event, several organizations provided information tables for the students and staff of Stony Brook University. In attendance was The Long Island Association for AIDS Care; Stony Brook Medicine’s PrEP Services; Pride for Youth; Stony Brook University’s LGBTQ*; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; Stony Brook University’s Commuter Student Association; Campus Residences; Stony Brook University’s AIDS Peer Educators; and the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC).

At this event, LIAAC sponsored a screening of the film Rent, a musical about New Yorkers in the early 1990s struggling to pay their rent and live their lives during the AIDS epidemic. This screening was attended by approximately 70 students and staff members.

The event also featured a screening of Blood Brother, a documentary about “Rocky Braat, a young man from a fractured family and a troubled past, went traveling through India without a plan. Then he met a group of HIV positive children living in an orphanage — a meeting that changed everything for him”. Additionally, Stony Brook University’s LGBTQ* sponsored a screening of United in Anger: A History of ACT UP, a documentary about the AIDS activist movement followed by a Q&A segment with the film’s director, Jim Hubbard.

LIAAC staff from both the Education and Mobile Outreach departments provided HIV testing in the campus’s UNITI Cultural Center from 11 am to 7 pm, while Planned Parenthood provided mobile testing in the SAC Plaza from 12 pm to 3 pm. Throughout the course of this event, LIAAC performed 90 HIV tests, while Planned Parenthood completed an additional 20 for a total of 110 tested for the day.

LIAAC staff distributed over 5,000 condoms to students by conducting outreach throughout the Student Activities Center. This outreach led to several encounters with students who were both shocked and excited to see condoms being freely distributed on campus. Some students requested additional condom packs, while others inquired about LIAAC’s other services and were referred to testing.

Overall, the World AIDS Day event at Stony Brook University was a great success, exceeding testing and condom distribution goals.

To view photos and videos from our World AIDS Day events at Stony Brook University, visit our Facebook page at

December 21, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on World AIDS Day at SUNY Old Westbury

World AIDS Day at SUNY Old Westbury

By: Melissa Colleary

In honor of World AIDS Day, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care participated in a three-day celebration at SUNY Old Westbury. The events were held during the campus’s common hour, which takes place daily from 2:30-3:50 p.m., in the Atrium of the Student Center. LIAAC cosponsored this event with Student Health Services.

In addition to LIAAC, Pride for Youth; Long Island Against Domestic Violence; Five Towns Community Center; and the SUNY Old Westbury chapter of Lambda Sigma Epsilon were in attendance. During these celebrations, LIAAC provided two tables full of information, condoms, and informative games to help interact with and share information about HIV, STIs, risky behaviors, and sexual health with as many students as possible.

LIAAC’s ECHO program used a small version of a game show wheel with questions such as “What is HIV?” and “How many drinks are in a binge?” to start a conversation with students about sexual health and risky drinking behaviors. For each correct answer, the participant won a World AIDS Day themed prize, such as a lanyard with the AIDS ribbon on it, a Red Ribbon rubber duck, or a Red Ribbon mini football.

LIAAC’s ECHO program also brought a game called “Drunk Condom” to the students of SUNY Old Westbury. This activity asked participants to wear a pair of “Fatal Vision” Drunk Goggles, which were loaned to LIAAC by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and attempt to put a condom on a demonstrator to show how difficult it can be to correctly put a condom on while intoxicated.

The most common error made by students was putting the condom on upside down, with some even tearing the condom. Drunk Condom sparked several discussions about condom use and safer sex practices. As you can hear in one of the videos, one student had never tried to put a condom on before, and others were unsure how to tell if it was on correctly.

When students completed a game of Drunk Condom, a member of LIAAC staff would perform a condom demonstration, explaining each of the steps necessary to put on a condom correctly. This led to discussions about how to talk to your partner about using condoms; sexually transmitted infections that can be contracted through oral sex; how to make a flavored condom into a dental dam; how to use an internal condom; why not to use a flavored condom for vaginal or anal sex; and the benefits of using PrEP for HIV prevention.

Throughout the course of these events, LIAAC tested 15 individuals for HIV, Hepatitis-C, and STIs. Additionally, LIAAC distributed over 900 condoms during the World AIDS Day celebrations.

To view photos and videos from our World AIDS Day events at SUNY Old Westbury, visit our Facebook page at

September 16, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking

2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking

By: Melissa Colleary

On August 30, 2016, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care’s Educated Choices Healthy Options (ECHO) program hosted the 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking at the Brentwood Public Library. This event was part of an initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The ECHO Program’s 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking involved a panel discussion of several esteemed professionals in their respective fields. These panelists included: Assemblyman Philip Ramos of the 6th Assembly District, Police Officer Elisa McVeigh of the Suffolk County Community Relations Bureau, Alexander Arias of Brentwood High School, Leah Richberg and Kavita Chadee of the ECHO program, Brittany Becker from the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Isai Fuentes and Melissa Smith of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Charlene Rogers of L.I. Against Domestic Violence, and Anthony Rizzuto of Seafield Services.

The panel discussion spanned two hours, consisting of conversations about what to do if you suspect someone you care about is involved in underage drinking, and how to address the topic with someone who does not believe underage drinking to be a problem in the community.

Having panelists from a wide array of organizations participate in this event ensured varied responses to the posed questions, which allowed for a wide spectrum of information to be shared.

The 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking was an outstanding success on social media. The event was live-streamed on Facebook and reached 1,758 people with 621 views. For future Town Hall Meetings, the ECHO program hopes to boost physical attendance while maintaining the vast reach on social media. Those who attended the event suggested hosting a future event during the school year to increase attendance. Overall, the event was extremely effective, providing the Brentwood community with much needed resources to help combat the epidemic of underage drinking.

August 25, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on Five Reasons You Should Use a Condom (Besides Not Getting Pregnant)

Five Reasons You Should Use a Condom (Besides Not Getting Pregnant)

By: Melissa Colleary

If you or your partner are using birth control, or your partner is the same sex as you, it may feel as though there is no real need to use condoms. Whether you’re at risk for pregnancy or not, condoms are still an important part of your sexual health.

1. HIV and STIs can happen to anyone

Although HIV and STIs are more prevalent in certain demographics, the reality is that HIV and STIs do not discriminate against sexual orientation, skin color, injection drug use, or economic class. All people are susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consistent and correct condom use can reduce your risk of contracting HIV, viral hepatitis, and STIs. For condom use to be most effective they should be used correctly with every sex act.

To learn how to properly put on a condom, click here.

2. PrEP does not prevent against other STIs

While pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) does protect against HIV, it does not provide protection against other STIs, such as chlamydia, gonhorrea, and syphilis. Even if you are currently taking PrEP, you are still at risk for sexually transmitted infections if you do not consistently and correctly use condoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Syphilis continues to increase among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Recent outbreaks among MSM have been marked by high rates of HIV coinfection and high-risk sexual behaviors (such as sex without a condom, new or multiple partners, and substance abuse).

It is important to emphasize that having sex without a condom, regardless of PrEP usage, is considered to be a high-risk sexual behavior as it leaves the individual vulnerable for other sexually transmitted infections.

3. Your partner’s status might not be what you think

This one isn’t about your partner lying to you about being “clean” or having a negative HIV or STI status. It’s more likely that they just don’t know. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that of the 1.2 million people estimated to have HIV in the United States, about one in eight are unaware of their infection. Additionally, when it comes to STIs, many people do not know they are infected because STIs often have no symptoms.

If your partner doesn’t know their status, then you may not either.

High rates of undiagnosed HIV and STIs mean it is extremely important to use condoms with every sexual encounter and get tested often.

Free and confidential mobile testing is available throughout Long Island when you schedule an appointment with a LIAAC tester by calling 866-236-3448

4. You have multiple partners

While mutual monogamy can be a way to prevent against HIV and STIs, it is not for everyone. If having multiple partners is what is best for you, make sure to always use condoms. It is important to use condoms with all of your sexual partners, as choosing to have unprotected sex with just one of your partners can still result in STIs and HIV.

5. You’re not just putting yourself at risk

If you are choosing to have sex without a condom, the consequences might not only affect you. If you contract HIV or STIs from having unprotected sex and are not getting tested regularly, you are likely to spread that infection on to your partner(s).

When it comes to using condoms, it’s best to follow this rule: If you wouldn’t want someone to give you an STI or HIV, don’t leave your partners susceptible to the same.

To best protect yourself and your partner(s) against sexually transmitted infections, use condoms with every sexual encounter, know your HIV and STI status, and get tested.


August 23, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on LIAAC to Host SAMHSA Town Hall Meeting about Underage Drinking Prevention

LIAAC to Host SAMHSA Town Hall Meeting about Underage Drinking Prevention

By: Melissa Colleary

Underage drinking is a problem that is too often swept under the rug due to the belief that “kids will be kids”. While the perception tends to be that alcohol use is an acceptable rite of passage, underage drinking is illegal and potentially deadly.

Each year, there are reports of teenagers and young adults ending a night of partying in the emergency room, and on occasion, obituaries for those who don’t survive. The New York State Department of Health reported that in 2013, there were over 100,000 alcohol-related emergency visits in New York State[i] and Newsday reported that between 2010 and 2015, over 350 individuals on Long Island died as a result of binge drinking[ii].

These casualties and injuries can be avoided.

Alcohol use is glamourized in the media, leading young people to believe that drinking will make them more fun, more popular, and easier to talk to. In reality, consuming large amounts of alcohol can make an individual sick, act in a way they normally wouldn’t, or lead to serious injury.

Underage drinking is by no means an isolated issue plaguing some communities and not others. Instead, high school students throughout all of New York State are drinking, often in excess. According to the December 2015 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, approximately 29% of youth ages 12 to 20 reported using alcohol in the past 30 days and about 17.4% reported binge drinking in the past 30 days[iii].

High rates of alcohol use among teens and young adults are due, in part, to social norms and the acceptance of alcohol use by parents and peers; accessibility; lack of knowledge about the risks associated with drinking; a desire to fit in; and even boredom.

Although obstacles are present, underage drinking is preventable. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that youth who have a trusting relationship with their parents are less likely to engage in drinking[iv]. By openly engaging with your child daily, conversations about alcohol use can have a positive impact on their decision making.

As adults, caregivers, and educators, it is our job to ensure the safety of young people, particularly when it comes to underage drinking.

Join the Long Island Association for AIDS Care at the Brentwood Public Library on August 30, 2016 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for the 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking. This meeting will mobilize our communities to become more educated and take action to prevent underage drinking. The forum will provide insights on topics related to drunk driving, support services available in the Brentwood community, the consequences for those who engage in underage drinking, and the importance of early intervention as means to deter potential alcohol and drug use.

[i] New York State Department of Health. New York State All Payer Emergency Room Visits (2013). Table 3. (

[ii] Deutsch, Kevin. Newsday. Binge Drinking Killed 354 People on Long Island in the Past 5 Years, Records Show. (April 11, 2015) (

[iii] The December 2015 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking (2015). P. 676 (

[iv] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Contributing Factors and What you Can Do. (

May 24, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on LIAAC Hosts Movies & Mocktails Event for Alcohol Awareness Month

LIAAC Hosts Movies & Mocktails Event for Alcohol Awareness Month

By: Melissa Colleary

Annually, Alcohol Awareness Month is celebrated in April with the goal of decreasing the stigma associated with alcoholism by encouraging conversations about recovery and the impacts that alcohol can have on the body. This year, The Long Island Association for AIDS Care, in partnership with Pride for Youth, a service and an advocate for LGBTQ youth, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, sponsored a Movies and Mocktails event. This event was an alcohol free evening that focused on showing youth alternatives to drinking alcohol in social situations.


This event was inspired by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s “Alcohol Free Weekend” that takes place annually during the month of April. The Alcohol Free Weekend invites individuals to partake in a three day sobriety campaign. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours.


The Movies and Mocktails event had four key components: education on binge drinking, sex, and the risk factors of drinking and driving by both LIAAC and MADD; a demonstration on how to make alcohol-free cocktails or “mocktails”; games that taught participants about the dangers of having sex under the influence of alcohol; and a film.


Participants were informed about the services that MADD provides to victims of drunk driving accidents and were educated about the harmful effects of alcohol. According to state data, Suffolk had 853 alcohol-related crashes in 2013 — more than 10 percent of the state’s total — of which 51, or 14 percent of the statewide total, were fatal. Nassau had 548 alcohol-related crashes in 2013, of which 26 resulted in a fatality. Newsday reported that at least 354 people of all ages died from drinking too much alcohol from 2010 to 2015. MADD’s presentation focused on how their organization helps victims and their families, for example, advocacy for victims, introducing victims to each other as a means of support, and providing a space for tributes where family members of victims can tell their stories as a way to put a face behind a drunk driving statistic.


Attendees were offered samples of alcohol free cocktails, or mocktails, such as alcohol-free mint juleps, alcohol-free margaritas, and an Arizona sunrise, which is made with orange juice, lemon-lime soda, and grenadine. Of the three beverages, the mint juleps were the crowd favorite. Although skeptical at first, those who sampled the mocktails soon started to get excited about opportunities to replicate them at social events in the future.


Games such as “dry pong”, “what’s in your bag?” and “drunk condom” were played, all with the intention of teaching about the sexual health risk factors associated with alcohol in a fun way. Dry pong and drunk condom were the games that drew the most attention, with competitions forming to see who could answer the most questions and who could correctly put on a condom the fastest. While the activities were created to incite fun, they also were meant to show the negative effects that alcohol may play in placing one at sexual risk.


The Movies & Mocktails event featured the documentary film “The Hunting Ground,” provided by Pride for Youth. This documentary focused on the stories of students who are survivors of rape on college campuses. More than one in every six freshmen women are raped during their first year at college while too drunk or drugged to fend off their attacker, a new U.S. study reports. This documentary served as a way to educate participants on the dangers of drinking as well as inform them on ways to protect themselves and others from these kinds of attacks. Popcorn was served during the movie and attendees were extremely engaged in the film, with many staying to discuss shocking and enlightening moments that they enjoyed while watching.


This event was an incredibly fun experience for all involved. Those who attended expressed their excitement for future events of a similar nature.


To view pictures from our Movies & Mocktails event, go to our Facebook page at

April 11, 2016
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on LIAAC Hosts Red Pump and Red Tie Event for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day

LIAAC Hosts Red Pump and Red Tie Event for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day

BY: Melissa Colleary

For National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc., Project ECHO (Educated Choices Healthy Options) grant, hosted a Red Pump and Red Tie Event aimed at creating a conversation surrounding women’s health and the rising rates of HIV infection among women, particularly those considered to be ethnic and racial minorities in low income areas. This year’s Red Pump and Red Tie Event was held at Brentwood Public Library which sits in the heart of a generally underserved minority community.

While traditionally the red ribbon is the symbol for HIV and AIDS awareness, for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the red pump takes the place of the traditional awareness ribbon to celebrate and empower women while simultaneously providing education and resources. For this year’s event, LIAAC’s Project ECHO decided to add red ties as a way for men to join the conversation about women’s health.

This year’s Red Pump and Red Tie Event has been the most outstanding and impactful event with over 300 condoms distributed to 66 people within a four hour period. In addition to condom packs, we distributed informational pamphlets, condom keychains, safety flashlights, and safety whistles. Part of what made this event such a success was the help of several vendors, including: Five Towns Community Center; TriCare Systems; Hudson River Health; Long Island Harvest; Affinity Health; Long Island Against Domestic Violence; and the National Coalition for Negro Women: Suffolk Chapter.

Each of these organizations helped to provide the Brentwood community with resources and information on how to get enrolled in health care, get tested for HIV and STIs, obtain help in harmful situations, and find access to services that they may not have known were available. In a county where 32.9% of people living with HIV are women, as reported in 2013[1], it is extremely important to provide educational and preventative resources to help reduce the spread of the virus.

The National Coalition for Negro Women: Suffolk Chapter donated red velvet cupcakes which were used in this year’s Condoms and Cupcakes initiative which required participants to correctly demonstrate how to put on a condom or correctly answer three questions about sexual health to win a cupcake. As 44 out of the 66 encounters of the day were youths between the ages of 13 and 25, this initiative proved to be an invaluable resource in helping a community that experiences teen pregnancy rates that are 73% higher than Suffolk County’s average in 2013[2].

LIAAC also sponsored a social media campaign that asked participants to write down the reasons why they think it is important to know their HIV, Hep-C, and STI status as a way to reduce the stigma behind the conversation about sexual health in hopes of stopping further spread. The written responses were photographed and turned into a video using the app Flipagram and can be viewed at

As part of this grant, we plan to host similar activities surrounding world, national, and prevention awareness days. See our Facebook page for more events at .

[1] New York State Department of Health. New York State HIV/AIDS County Surveillance Report (Includes State Prison Inmates) For Cases Diagnosed Through December 2013. Page 258. Table 1a

[2] Steve Bellone – Suffolk County Executive. Indices of Youth Needs in Suffolk County 2013. Office of the County Executive Suffolk County Youth Bureau. Page 11

October 15, 2015
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on The Long Island Association for AIDS Care celebrates National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).

The Long Island Association for AIDS Care celebrates National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).

2015NLAAD_LatinoBanner_vertOctober 15, 2015 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. It marks the end of a month long celebration of Hispanic Heritage. Established in 2003, and coordinated by the Latino Commission on AIDS, this day was established to bring awareness of the incredible impact HIV/AIDS has had on the Hispanic/Latino community throughout the United States. NLAAD encourages community organizations, faith based groups and local government agencies to communicate and work together. Through communication and cooperation, NLAAD works tirelessly to raise HIV awareness by highlighting the importance of HIV prevention & education, and by promoting HIV testing events to a Hispanic/Latino community heavily impacted by the effects of HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, and other STI’s.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV poses a serious threat to the health of the Hispanic/Latino community. The facts are sobering, with the CDC projecting that at some point in their lives 1 in 36 Hispanic/Latino men and 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latino women will be diagnosed with HIV. In addition, the CDC reported that Hispanic/Latinos accounted for over one-fifth or 21%, of all new HIV infections within the US in 2010. These numbers are alarming, considering that in 2010 the Hispanic/Latino community made up approximately 16% of the US population, yet the rate of new HIV infection was 3 times higher than that of the white population.

This year, NLAAD’s theme is “To end AIDS, Commit to Act/Para Acabar con el SIDA, Comprométete a Actuar.” The Long Island Association for AIDS Care is committed to providing free and confidential HIV testing, education, and outreach initiatives to every Long Island community. We especially encourage the many Long Island Hispanic/Latino communities to act now and get tested, it’s a commitment worth making. For information on events and testing initiatives we will offer in recognition of NLAAD, please visit our Facebook page at or call our toll free hotline at 1‐877‐TO‐LIAAC.

September 24, 2015
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on LIAAC Participates in the Nassau County 4th Annual Health & Wellness Fair

LIAAC Participates in the Nassau County 4th Annual Health & Wellness Fair

NassauCountyAwardOn July 11, 2015 the Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc. (LIAAC) participated in the Nassau County 4th Annual Health & Wellness Fair hosted by Nassau County Legislator, District 3 – Carrié Solages. Held at Green Acres Mall, LIAAC was one of over a dozen agencies that participated in an event that went from 11am – 3pm. This successful event has grown each year, bringing together healthcare providers and services under one roof to provide Nassau County residents with valuable resources and information. The hundreds of attendees and mall patrons made their way through numerous booths, where providers engaged the public and handed out FREE giveaways to promote awareness on many health related issues they may not get on a regular, everyday basis. LIAAC was on hand to provide valuable FREE and CONFIDENTIAL HIV & HEP C testing, and staff engaged the public and answered any questions people may have had. Anyone who visited the LIAAC booth was treated to many useful giveaway items, FREE condoms and valuable literature on many health related topics such as HIV/AIDS, Hep C, Syphilis, STD’s and chronic diseases. Nassau County and Legislator Solages, awarded LIAAC for their participation in the event, with a special citation thanking them for “outstanding community commitment and dedication”. LIAAC was proud to be part of this prestigious annual event. LIAAC strives to serve the Long Island community each and every day with services that promote education, awareness and healthy behavior as well as providing testing throughout Long Island. Please visit our Facebook page at and review our many informative posts and go to for valuable information on our programs and services.

July 28, 2015
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on The Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) celebrates World Hepatitis Day

The Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) celebrates World Hepatitis Day

2015HIVTestingDayBanner_blogwebJuly 28, 2015 is World Hepatitis Day. Coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance and recognized by the World Health Organization, this years theme is “Prevent Hepatitis: It’s up to you”. The mission of World Hepatitis Day is to raise awareness about viral hepatitis to educate through better prevention plans, create better avenues and access to treatment and encourage governments into action. LIAAC joins in their mission by standing up to be counted as one of the 4000 voices the Alliance is seeking to help raise awareness of viral hepatitis.

According to the World Hepatitis Alliance 400 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis B or C and every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis. Currently there is a vaccine available for both Hepatitis A and B but to date there is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C, which is the most prevalent form. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 4.4 million people are living with hepatitis and over 50% don’t even know they have it. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. Approximately 15,000 people die every year from Hepatitis C related liver disease.

In recognition of World Hepatitis Day 2015 and to help stem the tide of the over 15,000 new cases of hepatitis reported within New York State each year, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care’s mobile outreach will provide free and rapid Hepatitis C testing throughout Long Island. LIAAC will also launch hepatitis education initiatives on the illness at various locations within our communities. For more information on our Hepatitis education and testing events visit our Facebook page at or visit our Twitter page at