The LIAAC Blog

News and thoughts from the Long Island Association for AIDS Care

February 21, 2018
by Liaacinc

The Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc. Observes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

February 7, 2018 marks the 18th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. NBHAAD was founded in 1999 as a national response to the growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in African American communities. The theme for 2018 is “Stay the Course, the Fight is Not Over!”

The NBHAAD initiative leverages a national platform to educate, bring awareness, and mobilize the African American community. NBHAAD has four key focus areas which encourage people to get educated about HIV and AIDS; get involved in community prevention efforts; get tested to know their status; and get treated to receive the continuum of care needed to live with HIV/AIDS.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, 44% of estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among African Americans, who comprise 12% of the US population. Additionally, according to the New York State HIV/AIDS Surveillance Annual Report for Cases Diagnosed through December 2016, 20.7% of people newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Nassau and Suffolk counties were Black. Although this number has decreased from 24.4% since December 2014, there is still work to be done.

To get involved with our efforts, visit our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at @LIAAC_inc. For more information or to schedule a test, call our toll free hotline at 1-866-236-3448.

February 14, 2018
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on LIAAC Supports Go Red Day 2018

LIAAC Supports Go Red Day 2018

LIAAC and Tri Care Systems showed it’s support for Go Red Day 2018. Go Red Day helps raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and is supported by several agencies including the American Hearth Association, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others. You can learn more about it at

January 30, 2018
by Liaacinc
1 Comment

The Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc. Names its New Chief Executive Officer

Since its founding in 1986, LIAAC has been a staple in the Long Island community. On June 30th, after over 30 years of service to the community of Long Island, Dr. Gail Barouh, PhD retired as the CEO of the Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc. After Dr. Barouh’s retirement, the LIAAC Board of Directors asked, the Board Chair, John Haigney, to take on the position of interim CEO, to help the agency as it transitioned to new leadership over the coming months. In January 2018, impressed with his leadership over this time, the Board elected John Haigney to the position of Chief Executive Officer.

John Haigney has been involved with LIAAC for over 30 years. The Board is very confident in John’s leadership and are excited to see what the future holds for the agency with his tenure.

With a new year and a new CEO also comes a new organizational structure at LIAAC. We are happy to continue to provide HIV prevention programs such as SAMHSA CSAP Educated Choices Healthy Options (ECHO), SAMHSA CSAT Project Safety Net, CDC’s program Young Men who have Sex with Men of Color. In addition we continue our vital Health Homes Care Coordination. We are exploring plans to expand upon the services we currently provide. LIAAC has been known for its innovative practices and for being on the forefront of current public health trends. We look forward to a bright and promising future.

November 7, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on Hepatitis A Cases Are on the Rise Amongst Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York State.

Hepatitis A Cases Are on the Rise Amongst Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York State.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) reported a significant increase of Hepatitis A infections in men who have sex with men (MSM)[1]. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) also found a similar increase among individuals living outside of the city[2]. Since January 1, 2017, there has been a ten-times increase of reported cases within the MSM population living in New York City, which may be linked to outbreaks in 16 European countries[3].

While Long Island was not specifically mentioned in these alerts, our close proximity to the city and surrounding areas puts us at a high risk. According to the latest data gathered by the NYSDOH, there were 61 cases of Hepatitis A in Nassau and Suffolk Counties from 2013 to 2015, which is higher than any other region outside of NYC.

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is usually transmitted when the feces of an infected person gets into the mouth of another person; usually when a person consumes food or water that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Even a microscopic amount is enough to cause infection. Transmission can also occur when someone puts their mouth, lips, or tongue on another person’s anus or objects that were near another person’s anus, such as a penis, finger, condom, or sex toy. Once inside the body, the virus attacks the liver and may cause symptoms that can last up to several months, including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

While most people recover completely from Hepatitis A after a couple of months, a few severe cases may be life-threatening. To treat the infection, doctors usually recommend rest and medical monitoring until the infection has passed. Some people may need to be hospitalized.

Fortunately, there is an HAV vaccine that will prevent infection. It is recommended that all gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men be vaccinated. Depending on the vaccine, 2 or 3 shots over time may be needed to provide full protection. For those people who are unsure of their vaccination history, the NYSDOH recommends getting one nonetheless; there is no harm in repeating the vaccination. Vaccine costs are covered through the New York State Medicaid program, AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and most private insurances.

If you have had sex, shared drugs, or lived with someone with Hepatitis A within the last two weeks, getting the vaccine or immune globulin can help protect you. The sooner you seek medical attention the better.

For the gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) that live on Long Island, Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc. (LIAAC) has several programs tailored to this population that can make Hepatitis A prevention, diagnosis, and treatment easier:

  • Project Safety Net provide referrals for Hepatitis A (HAV) and Hepatitis B (HBV) testing and vaccinations.
  • YMSM Alternative Prevention and Care  links young men who have sex with men to primary care physicians.
  • Prevention Education  provide educational workshops; offer free and confidential HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV), and STI testing; as well as create campaigns to spread awareness.

All of these programs also provide the MSM population with free and confidential HIV testing, education, and linkage to care, as people living with HIV are disproportionally affected by viral hepatitis. An HIV infection causes viral hepatitis to progress faster and causes more liver damage to occur than among those who do not have HIV.

For more information about Hepatitis A, please visit the sites below. If you have more questions, your doctor or local health care providers are great tools to help you better understand the disease.


Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc.

Free & Confidential Hotline 877-865-4222

New York State Department of Health

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health:

Fact Sheet on Hepatitis A:

Information for Consumers – Hepatitis A:

Information for Providers – Hepatitis A:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Hepatitis Fact Sheet for Gay and Bisexual Men:

Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public:

Patient Education Resources:

Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for Health Professionals:

Other Resource:

Vaccine Information Statements:


[1] New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 2017 DOHMH Alert #34: UPDATE: Increase in Cases of Hepatitis Among Men Who Have Sex With Men

[2] Latash J, Dorsinville M, Del Rosso P, et al. Notes from the Field: Increase in Reported Hepatitis A Infections Among Men Who Have Sex with Men — New York City, January–August 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:999–1000. DOI: .


[3] European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Rapid risk assessment: hepatitis A outbreak in the EU/EEA mostly affecting men who have sex with men. Third update, June 28, 2017. Solna, Sweden: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; 2017. data/rapid-risk-assessment-hepatitis-outbreak-eueea-mostly-affecting-men-who-have-sex .


November 6, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on SAMHSA announces new grant for LIAAC

SAMHSA announces new grant for LIAAC

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded grants totaling $166 million over five years through its Targeted Capacity Expansion-HIV (TCE-HIV) Program and its Prevention Navigator Program. Through the two grant programs, SAMHSA expects to fund seventy-nine grants each year up to five years. These grants will be used to prevent HIV among high-risk populations and to treat co-occurring behavioral health disorders and HIV.

“Seventy-nine agencies throughout the United States have been selected to receive grants; LIAAC is privileged to be the only agency on Long Island to receive one.” – Gail Barouh, Executive Transition Officer

More information on the grant from SAMHSA can be found at

November 3, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on Keep Talking: Suicide and LGBTQ Youth

Keep Talking: Suicide and LGBTQ Youth

By Sara Guando

There are some words commonly associated with a person’s passing: elderly, sick, disease, “it was his/her time…” Sadly, too many Long Islanders know someone who does not fit these terms.

Would you be surprised to know that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States? Even more alarming, data shows suicide is on the rise. Since 1999 US suicide rates have increased every year leading to a 15-year high in 2014. On average, 121 Americans die by suicide each day.  This spans across people of all genders, social-economic statuses, and ages. However, there are groups disproportionately affected by suicidal thoughts and actions; veterans, middle-aged men, and LGBTQ population – particularly LGBTQ youth.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are up to five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. 92% of transgender individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. LGBTQ are at increased risk for being exposed to bullying, teasing, harassment, and physical assault. Ensuring LGBTQ feel safe emotionally and physically are basic measures friends, family members and the community can take in supporting LGBTQ youth and preventing depression, substance use, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Dr. Gail Barouh states that “the numbers regarding LGBTQ suicide are staggering. We are on the right track with prevention and support but we must continue to make sure LGBTQ youth know they are in a community that loves and accepts them. We also have to educate society as a whole about this issue. These statistics are unacceptable.”

Looking for good news? Prevention is possible. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors are often first steps in helping someone who may not be reaching out for help. More importantly, being open, non-judgemental, and accepting is an essential step whether someone is reaching out or not. Often, we believe that “we all have problems” and minimize the effect certain issues are having on a person because of how we believe we would respond to a similar situation. Remember, that individuals respond to every situation differently, especially when they are younger or have different life experiences. It’s okay to ask for help. Providing a support system, being non-judgemental, and finding resources for help are essential ways which we can all prevent suicide. This September, LIAAC joined the awareness efforts of National Suicide Prevention Month. On September 17th, LIAAC staff participated at Long Island Crisis Center’s “Let’s Walk Let’s Talk” event in Long Beach. This was a community event focused on education, prevention and advocacy for Long Islanders in need. Since 1971 Long Island Crisis Center has provided help to Long Island through their 24/7 free and confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline.When a disproportionate number of LGBTQ suicide calls were being received by the Crisis Center’s hotline Pride for Youth was established in 1993 to serve Long Island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their families. Since our beginnings; LIAAC, LICC, and Pride 4 Youth have all expanded their programs and services to fit the needs of Long Islanders. LIAAC staff described “Let’s Walk Let’s Talk” as a unique opportunity to meet and have open conversations with fellow Long Islanders about the realities of suicide and ways to prevent it.

So, let’s take the suggestion of LICC – Talk about it. If you are concerned about a loved one, asking/reaching out is not going to cause them to think about suicide but it may help them feel supported enough to be honest and seek help.

If you, or someone you love, needs help or may be contemplating suicide see information below for where to get help. You are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Long Island Crisis Center 24/7 Hotline: 516-679-1111
OR visit to speak to a counselor from any computer, tablet or smart phone.

For more information on risk factors and/or warning signs, visit:

For more information on LGBTQ youth and how to support, visit:


November 1, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on Countdown to World AIDS Day 2017

Countdown to World AIDS Day 2017

Since 1988, World AIDS Day has been globally observed on December 1st to unite the world in the fight against HIV. It was created to show support for people living with HIV and commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. This year’s theme is “Increasing Impact Through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships.” Working together with other organizations and the public, we can put an end to HIV/AIDS. Please join us in spreading this message of hope and determination on social media by using the hashtag #WAD2017.

There are an estimated 36.7 million people living with HIV in the world, including an estimated million people in the United States. Closer to home, New York State reported 111,933 HIV and AIDS cases in their HIV/AIDS Annual Surveillance Report For Cases Diagnosed Through December 2015. According to the same report, there were 5,685 individuals living HIV/AIDS in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Just looking at the numbers, it is easy to see why World AIDS Day is important. HIV/AIDS is not a burden of past generations; the virus continues to affect a significant part of our communities and not just the infected, but their friends and family as well.

LIAAC recognizes that to end the epidemic globally and locally, we must all unite together and compound our efforts in this fight. This is why throughout the month of November, leading up to World AIDS Day, we are launching a social media campaign that will spotlight different organizations that contribute to the battle against HIV/AIDS and the stigma that surrounds it. During the week before World AIDS Day, we will also be honoring our employees on social media, by posting their thoughts about working in the HIV/AIDS field and how they are working hard to end the epidemic.                                               

LIAAC will also be hosting and participating in several World AIDS Day events throughout Long Island during the last week in November to World AIDS Day on December 1st. During those events, we will be providing free HIV education and testing services for those in attendance. For dates and times, visit our events tab on Facebook.

For more information please call our hotline at 1-877-865-4222.

October 27, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on United We Stand Against Bullying

United We Stand Against Bullying

LIAAC and LINCS employees teamed up to show their support for National Bullying Prevention Month by wearing orange. Gail Barouh, CEO LINCS, said “It was encouraging seeing employees of both LIAAC and LINCS come together to support Unity Day and it’s message against bullying. LINCS is proud to provide several Anti-Bullying initiatives through their BiasHELP program.”




October 18, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on LIAAC Receives Five Year Grant Award from SAMHSA

LIAAC Receives Five Year Grant Award from SAMHSA

LIAAC is excited to announce that we have been awarded funding by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) for a HIV testing and substance abuse prevention/treatment program, focusing on Men who have Sex with Men (MSM), transgender individuals and returning veterans and their families. This program, Project Safety Net, will include community outreach, HIV/Hepatitis/STI testing, and recovery support services to individuals at high risk for HIV, including those in or seeking substance abuse treatment.

Dr. Gail Barouh congratulated the hard-working staff of LIAAC for securing this funding for our clients, noting that by reducing new HIV infections and connecting individuals with substance abuse and/or mental health treatment Long Island will see an overall improvement in health and community well-being.

Project Safety Net will provide targeted testing, conscientious outreach and effective intervention including case management and linkage to care. Our Prevention Specialists will focus their diligent efforts on high-risk communities that are disproportionately burdened with the co-occurring epidemics of poverty, substance abuse, mental health disorders, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. In collaboration with LIAAC’s Mobile Outreach Coordinator, field-based outreach and intervention will provide essential, supportive services to local communities; ensuring increased engagement with target populations, reducing new HIV infections and improving overall health outcomes. Project Safety Net supports the 2020 National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  Individuals who are identified as HIV-positive will be linked to proper medical care, provided  essential and supportive services, as well as provided with education and techniques to make healthy choices and reduce the spread of HIV.


August 30, 2017
by Liaacinc
Comments Off on Opioids, Heroin: The Crisis Hits Home

Opioids, Heroin: The Crisis Hits Home

By Sara GuandoThe opioid epidemic has been declared a national emergency. In his remarks President Trump stated “Nobody is safe from this epidemic that threatens young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural communities.  Everybody is threatened.”[i] The statements have recognized a crisis that has been mounting over the years at a sweeping rate. Between 1999 and 2015, deaths from drug overdoses have quadrupled in the United States.

How did we get here?

In the mid-1990s, Oxycontin hit the market and the drug manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, began a large-scale marketing campaign for the drug. This seems typical for any new product but Purdue Pharma’s promotions were anything but typical. Knowing the apprehension of doctors to liberally prescribe opiates, Purdue Pharma marketing campaign included videos that positioned Oxycontin as a safe option for a variety of uses. They claimed that the risk of addiction was under one percent and encouraged both short and long term uses of the drug. As doctors accepted these claims to be true, prescriptions for Oxycontin grew rapidly in the late 1990s – early 2000s. The National Institute on Drug Abuse identified “drastic increases in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed, greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes, and aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies” as key components of the onset of the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic.[ii] In 2007, Purdue Pharma paid one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in the amount of $634 million dollars, for its role in the opioid crisis. The company continues to face lawsuits around the country for misleading marketing.
How bad is it, really?

Fueled by a prescription drug addiction, users become more likely to try drugs intravenously and/or turn to heroin, both of which are cheaper options. According to a recent study, 75% of heroin users started by using prescription opioids.[iii]Additionally, because of the prescription opioid crisis, government agencies began cracking down on the prescription methods and practices. Databases were created as doctors and pharmacists suspected of not following guidelines were flagged and investigated. This led to prescription drugs being less available from reckless prescribing of opiates, and less capability for patients to “doctor jump,” meaning users were going to multiple doctors for similar problems and having multiple prescriptions written. However, whatever positive effect this may have had did not sustain, as these crackdowns are typically where the increase in heroin and injection drug use began. With prescription drugs less readily available, users attempted to obtain the drugs illegally, or turned to illicit drugs in their place. And so, America is now in the grips of a two-headed crisis, and this epidemic is not going down without a fight. The answers of how we move forward and combat this issue has proven controversial and time consuming as law makers and physicians seek the best response.

In the meantime…

  • 91 people die every day from opioid overdose.
  • 1 out of 10 new HIV diagnoses involve injection drug use.
  • If current rates continue, 1 in 23 women who inject drugs and 1 in 36 men who inject drugs will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
  • In the United States, injection drug use is the primary risk factor for transmitting Hepatitis C.

In short, this epidemic affects all areas of social, medical and mental health for users, families, and loved ones, and we need a solution.

I don’t use drugs. Why should I care?
I see it on the news. I hear about it. But, these drug addicts are making a choice. It’s their own fault.

 The issue is closer to home than you may realize. Heroin abuse has increased amongst most demographic groups: male, female, age categories, race/ethnicities, across incomes, and healthcare access. In fact, the highest increases of heroin abuse have been amongst demographics that were previously much less affected by the drug problem. Studies show “heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.”[iv]And New York is no exception. From 2013 to 2014 overdose deaths caused by heroin increased over 24%, and have risen still since. Up to 500 people died on Long Island in 2016 from opioid overdoses, a new record high. And just this summer, in June 2017, over a two day period, nearly two dozen people overdosed on opioids.

 There is more danger to drug use than an overdose. The spread of disease, including HIV and Hepatitis is a huge concern. Mental illness, loss of work, and destruction of families are common as addiction takes hold of a person’s life. Treatment options are not as clear, nor as available, as other medical conditions. The societal stigma and criminal nature of illicit drug use can be incredibly damaging to people seeking help. Moreover, the fact that this crisis was created by the companies that we trust our lives and our quality of life with often goes unseen. Because of stigma, isolation, and the threat of having to stop using a drug they have become dependent on, users tend to live in the dark. Maybe not in dark, deserted alleys that TV suggests, but in the shadows of everyday life. They are our neighbors, friends, family members, who keep part of themselves as hidden as they can. So, we should all care. No one is a good, law-abiding person one day and then wakes up the next and decide to inject themselves with heroin.  It’s easy to blame a drug addict for “getting themselves addicted” but in reality; it’s more complicated than that.

How many degrees of separation are you from this crisis? Chances are, on Long Island, you aren’t far from it.

Next time, we will dive into the options. What can we do? How do we combat this epidemic and protect our loved ones? How do we get people the help they need, and stop the spread of HIV and Hepatitis? Join LIAAC for Part 3 of our blog series on the Opioid Crisis.



i. The White House. Remarks by President Trump Before a Briefing on the Opioid Crisis. (8 August 2017)

ii.  Office of the New York State Comptroller, Thomas P DiNapoli. Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Addiction in New York State. 2016 June. Retrieved from

iii. Seelye, Katharine Q. The Numbers Behind America’s Heroin Epidemic. (30 Oct 2015) Retrieved from

iv. Cicero, Thomas, Ellis, Matthew, & Surratt, Hilary. The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States: A Retrospective Analysis of the Past 50 Years. 2014 July. Retrieved from JAMA Psychiatry.

More References

Center for Disease Control. Drug Overdose Death Data.(December 2016)

“Purdue Pharma OxyContin Commercial” (22 Sep 2016)

“Purdue in $634 million settlement over Oxycontin” (20 July 2007)

Center for Disease Control. Understanding the Epidemic. (December 2016)

Center for Disease Control. HIV and Injection Drug Use. (March 2017)

Campbell, Cecily, Canary, Lauren, Smith, Nicole, Teshale, Eyasu, Ryerson, Blythe, & Ward, John. State HCV Incidence and Policies Related to HCV Preventive and Treatment Services for Persons Who Inject Drugs — United States, 2015–2016. (12 May 2017)

Morales, Mark. “Nearly 500 People Died on LI from Opioid Overdoses in 2016” Mark Morales (9 April 9 2017)

Brooks, Khristopher. “Police: 22 opioid ODs, 1 fatality in 48 hours cause for concern” (30 June 2017)