National Prevention Week takes place annually, and is dedicated to increasing public awareness of substance abuse and mental health issues. This year the event takes place May 13 – 19. The three primary goals of National Prevention Week are: to involve communities in raising awareness of behavioral health issues and in implementing prevention strategies; to foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and to promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications. This year, Prevention Week takes place from May 13 to May 19, 2018 and the overall theme is “Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow.”
Currently, the United States has been within the grip of a devastating opioid abuse crisis, one from which Long Island is not immune. According to the New York State Comptroller’s 2016 report on prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction, Suffolk County had the highest rate of heroine overdoses of all the counties in the state. It is important that we take this week as an opportunity to speak to young people about the dangers of abusing prescription and illicit drugs, such as bodily damage, infectious diseases, and even death.
May 11, 2018
by Liaacinc Comments Off on LIAAC Recognizes Hepatitis Awareness Month and National Hepatitis Testing Day
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19, 2018 is National Hepatitis Testing Day, an opportunity to shed light on this hidden epidemic by raising awareness of viral hepatitis and encouraging priority populations to get tested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those at highest risk for viral hepatitis are: baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965); men who have sex with men; Asian and Pacific Islanders; those with HIV/AIDS; and injection drug users.
There are more than three types of Hepatitis. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are each caused by a different virus and is spread in different ways. Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become life-long chronic infections. However, there are vaccines that prevent against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
In the U.S, an estimated 2.7 to 3.9 million people are living with chronic HCV infection. Statewide, an estimated 200,000 people are living with HCV infection. It is estimated that up to 75% of persons living with HCV do not know their status. According to the 2016 Communicable Disease Annual Reports from the New York State Department of Health, there were 562 Hepatitis C infections reported in Nassau County and 891 Hepatitis C infections in Suffolk County.
February 21, 2018
by Liaacinc Comments Off on 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 https://www.facebook.com/LIAAC.inc 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
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.
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). The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) also found a similar increase among individuals living outside of the city. 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.
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 Netprovide referrals for Hepatitis A (HAV) and Hepatitis B (HBV) testing and vaccinations.
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.
 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6637a7 .
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
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 longislandcrisiscenter.org to speak to a counselor from any computer, tablet or smart phone.
For more information on risk factors and/or warning signs, visit:
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
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.”