The LIAAC Blog

News and thoughts from the Long Island Association for AIDS Care

July 17, 2014
by Liaacinc
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The Long Island Association for AIDS Care Observes World Hepatitis Day 2014

July 28, 2014 is World Hepatitis Day. Coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance and recognized by the World Health Organization, the past themes have been “get tested” and “This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.” The mission of World Hepatitis Day is to raise awareness on the epidemic and educate on how to prevent viral hepatitis, to increase hepatitis B vaccine coverage, and to coordinate a global response to hepatitis.

Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer. In the U.S., an estimated 4.4 million people are unaware they are living with hepatitis and one million people die every year from the illness. According to a press release dated January 18th, 2005 from Senator Schumer’s office, data shows Hepatitis C is growing in prevalence on Long Island.  In 2004, Suffolk County identified 7,000 residents as having Hepatitis C while the Nassau County Department of Health reported 4,364 cases of chronic Hepatitis C. This year, there was a new public health law in New York requiring that health care providers offer hepatitis C screening test to every individual born between 1945-1965.  Individuals born during these years in the U.S. represent three fourths of all Hepatitis C infections. The federal government created a Viral Hepatitis Action Plan for 2014-2016 that will detail the steps agencies will take to prevent hepatitis and ensure care and treatment resources are available for those in need.

In recognition of World Hepatitis Day 2014, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) will provide free and rapid hepatitis C testing in Long Island’s communities through mobile outreach. LIAAC will also launch Hepatitis education initiatives on the illness affecting 300,000 people in New York State and Long Island.

July 15, 2014
by Liaacinc
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The Faith Communities Project

by D. Ray Ward, MAOM, CASAC, CPP
Chief Program Officer

Historically, Houses of Worship have been a place that inspires change, hope and faith to community residents.  In addition to spiritual nurturing, they provide shelter, food assistance and other social service supports.  Congregations have come to trust their spiritual leaders to guide them through tough and uncertain times.  In these times of high prevalence of HIV/HCV/STI transmission in ethnic minority communities, the faith leadership has another higher calling – to assist with reducing the transmission of HIV/ HCV and other STI’s in the hardest-hit communities. Yes, faith-based organizations are an integral part of the National HIV/AIDS/HCV/ STI Public Health Strategy: to reduce stigma and discrimination, get people screened/tested and know their status, linkage to care for those who screen/ test positive, retention in care over time, and provision of antiretroviral therapy to achieve viral suppression.

The NYS DOH AIDS Institute, Faith Communities Project (FCP) fosters regional partnerships with faith-based organizations and community-based organizations to deliver prevention information, HIV/HCV/STI screening/rapid testing and identify various community supportive resources.  The Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc. (LIAAC) is the largest and oldest AIDS service organization on Long Island and a devoted member of the Faith Communities Project; as LIAAC’s Chief Program Officer, I serve on the Nassau/ Suffolk County Regional Committee.  Annually, there are four faith community programs held that target “What Congregations Need to Know!” Two events are in Suffolk County and two are in Nassau County.  Each program runs from 6 pm – 9 pm. In 2013, topics included HIV/AIDS Treatment, Hidden Infections: Hepatitis C/HIV /STI, Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation and Impact of HIV/AIDS on LGBTQ Youth.  We were able to reach nearly 200 participants with prevention messages and made available HIV/STI/HCV screening and rapid testing.

On April 24, 2014, the Long Island Regional Committee moderated and facilitated its first program of the year on Impact of Stigma and Discrimination on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, at the St. John’s Baptist Church of Westbury.   Hope Zewou, LIAAC’s Prevention Specialist, delivered a well prepared and thought provoking PowerPoint education presentation.  The congregation learned they too could unknowingly stigmatize and discriminate against other members of their congregation who may also be HIV positive. Ms. Zewou presentation was so well received; there were many questions during the Q&A session and not enough time to answer all of them.  In fact, the program did not end until 9:30 pm.

After the program’s closing remarks and benediction, participants and presenters continued to dialogue and network. The next faith-based program will be June 24, at The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook from 6 pm -9 pm. The topic will be on Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, HIV/AIDS & Our Young People. In September and November – locations to be announced – topics will be on LGBTQ Youth and Intermit Partner Violence respectfully.

In 2011 the CDC contends that 6,000 Persons Living w/Diagnosed HIV Infection resided in Nassau- Suffolk County; of that number, a little more than half or 58% received continuous care during the year. The relationship between and impact of HIV, HCV and other STI’s has been well documented. African Americans and Hispanics comprise respectfully 18% and 36% of Nassau and Suffolk Counties general population but represent 44% and 28% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases and 36% and 22% of emergent HIV cases. Although people are living longer due to the advances in HIV/HCV and STI medications, we still have a long way to go in reducing stigma and discrimination. As the result of stigma and discrimination, many people are not comfortable with getting screened/tested and seeking medical care and support for their positive diagnosis, for fear of being ostracized by their community.  Many individuals don’t know their status they are our friends, family, coworkers and members of our church congregation.

If we are ever to achieve an “AIDS Free Generation” it will take more diverse sectors like faith–based communities working with the government and other community based organizations to reduce the impact of stigma and discrimination. Know Your Status, Get Tested!  For more information regarding the next faith-based program coming to your community, or how to get involved with the Faith Communities Project or schedule a prevention program, HIV/HCV/STI screening or testing event at your organization, please contact LIAAC’s Hotline: 1-887-865-4222 and ask for D. Ray Ward.

February 4, 2014
by Liaacinc
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The Fight Continues: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By: Project REACH

February 7, 2014 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). On February 7th embody the mission of NBHAAD by becom

ing your “brother/sister’s keeper: fight HIV/AIDS!” Watch out for those close to you in your life by educating them on HIV/AIDS or getting tested together. Show your support, focus on the four aspects of the national day: education, testing, involvement, and treatment.

With the HIV/AIDS virus comes stigma, obstacles, and risks.

HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects African Americans. African Americans form such a small population in respect to the population’s noticeably higher HIV/AIDS cases. In 2010, African Americans compromised 11.1% of Nassau County and 7.4% of Suffolk County; however, African Americans represented 36% of HIV cases and 44% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases, according to the New York State Department of Health Epidemiological Data. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day works to change disparities of African Americans at risk for HIV/AIDS; providing HIV education, testing, leadership, and treatment initiatives that target at risk black communities.

African Americans from every walk of life are affected by HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011 African Americans in the U.S. had an estimated rate of 60.4% new HIV infections, compared to 58% in 2010 and 60% in 2009. The statistics support the need for intervention and intervention begins in our own Long Island communities.

The Long Island Association for AIDS Care’s Project REACH is a program that works to diminish statistics through risk education and assessment, referrals to primary health care treatment and community based services for HIV, STIs, and Hepatitis C. On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, LIAAC will be launching education and testing initiatives to reach Long Island’s black communities. Throughout the week of February 7th, we will be offering education and testing in locations near you. For a complete list of testing locations and events visit our Facebook events page at: https://www.facebook.com/LIAAC.inc/events or call our toll free hotline at 1-877-TO-LIAAC.

November 27, 2013
by Liaacinc
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Chef’s Secrets 9 Report

by: Project REACH

The 9th Annual Denim and Diamond’s Chef’s Secrets event was a smashing success. Weeks of planning and a suspenseful countdown led to the monumental food and wine tasting event.  Long Island’s premiere chefs and vendors provided guests with sweet and savory flavor experiences. Guests came to support LIAAC and BiasHELP’s programs outfitted in their best denim and brightest diamonds. Chef’s Secrets 9 began at 2:00 with a VIP champagne cocktail hour, presented by Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, on the patio of the de Seversky Mansion in Old Westbury.

 

The event offered a 50/50 raffle, mystery box sales, Chinese auction, silent auction, and live auction bidding . Amongst the eye catching auction items were: an overnight stay at Mohegan Sun and dinner for two; four VIP tent passes to the 2014 Hampton Classic Horse Show; an exquisite diamond necklace from D. Rao & Company Jewelers in NYC; a Disney Package with two round-trip Southwest Airlines Tickets, a one week stay  at Orange Lake Resort in Florida, and so many more amazing items. Food and wine tasting began at 3:00 with wondrous chefs, vendors, and dessert stations placed within the mansion.

The culinary artists present were: Frank Cammarata from Ciao Baby in Massapequa, Robert Ehrlich from Star Academy in Syosset, Lou Fa Yong of Pearl East in Manhasset, Jeanie Annecco of Jeanie’s Bakery in East Rockaway, Eric Lobignat of Bon Bons Chocolatier in Huntington, Oscar Martinez of Havana Central in Garden City, Christopher Taylor of Chris & Tell Cakes in Hempstead, Jeri Woodhouse of Taste of the North Fork in Cutchogue, George Schneider of Star Career Academy in Syosset, Julio Velasquez of Sage Bistro, and the de Seversky Culinary Team.

The lively emcee of the night was Stone Grissom, Anchorman for News 12 Long Island. Stone Grissom presented the 50/50 raffle and the Live Auction.

Sponsors included: Walgreens, Dr. Print, Conover Consulting, Chembio Diagnostic Systems, IT Savvy, B & C Office Furniture, Jordan & Leslie Mayer, Suffolk County National Bank, CT Networks, Zapken & Loeb, The Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk County New York, and Stagg, Terenzi, Confusione & Wabnik Attorneys at Law.

Vendors were: Banfi Vinters, Coffee Distributing Corp., Dynamic Beverages, Orange V, Riverboat Rye, Fedway Imports Co. Inc., Ice Miracles, McKenzie’s Hard Cider, and Nicolas Feuillatte.

 

A special thanks to all businesses that donated goods and services that truly made Chef’s Secrets 9 an event to remember. With the help of our chef’s, vendors, and sponsors Chef’s Secrets successfully raised funds for programs that deal with bullying, cyber-bullying, bias incidents, and help those infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information on Chef’s Secrets 9 or to view the soon to be posted photo gallery from the event visit: chefssecrets.org

October 18, 2013
by Liaacinc
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Chef’s Secrets 9 on the Horizon

by: Gail Barouh

 The time is approaching for LIAAC’s ninth annual Chef’s Secrets event. The festivities will take place on November 3rd from 3-6 pm at the de Seversky Mansion in Old Westbury. The theme this year is Denim and Diamonds, a casual spin on elegance. Each year, the Long Island Network of Community Services, Inc. (LINCS) hosts the event.We hope that those in the community will show their support by attending Chef’s Secrets.

 Chef’s Secrets is a wine and food tasting event. Tasting stations will be positioned where you can try some of the greatest dishes on the island, made by local culinary chefs. So far, there are thirteen chefs on the lineup: Robert Ehrlich of Star Career Academy, Nilka Hendricks of Rachel’s Waterside Grill in Freeport, Oscar Martinez of Garden City’s Havana Central Restaurant, Christopher Taylor of Chris & Tell Cakes in Hempstead, George Schneider of Star Career Academy in Syosset, Robert Portillo from Sage Bistro, Leisa Den of LL Dent in Carle Place, Cathy Huang of Pearl East in Manhasset, Rosario Naimo of Bella Dolce, Frank Cammarata from Ciao Baby in Massapequa, Eric Lobignat of Bon Bons Chocolatier in Huntington, Jeri Woodhouse of A Taste of the North Fork in Cutchogue, and of course the fabulous culinary team at the de Seversky Mansion in Old Westbury, and more to come. There will also be vendors in attendance with selections of wines, cocktails, ciders, and beers: Banfi Vinters, Coffee Distributing Corp, McKenzie’s Hard Cider, National Refrescos, Vindagra U.S.A, Casa de Vinos, Boening Bros., Fedway Imports CO., Bridge Brands Sales, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and so much more.

 Some of the other festivities at this elegant food and wine tasting celebration include a live Auction, where guests will have a chance to bid on desirable luxury items, a Chinese auction with magnificent baskets containing something for everyone. You can purchase mystery boxes—take a chance and pick a box for a secret prize inside. The contents are always worth more than you pay.

Last but not least, there will be a 50/50 raffle. Even more exciting are the causes the event supports. The proceeds raised by Chef’s Secrets will help those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, bring awareness to the pressing issue of bullying, techno bullying, and hate crimes.  These issues affect all of our communities on Long Island.

On Sunday, November 3rd, we hope to see you supporting these causes in your finest denim and sparkling diamonds. To purchase a ticket, donate goods or services, or to view scenes from last year’s Chef Secret’s, visit: chefssecrets.org. To stay in touch with the latest information on Chef’s Secrets, ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

September 5, 2013
by Liaacinc
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Come to the Rescue of Your Health By Eating Right

by: Gail Barouh

“You are what you eat” is a phrase we are sure to hear at some point in our lives from our parents and educators. As we grow older, the meaning of that one phrase seems to hold a definite truth: everything we eat can affect us both negatively and positively. However, one good meal cannot set forth positive affects in our bodies in no time—it takes a consistent routine to impact us. In the HIV/AIDS community, good meals full of nutrients can make a tremendous difference in the health of those diagnosed. Food can be the difference between good health days and bad ones. Super-foods are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and proteins that can be incorporated with any meal, but should also be eaten in moderation. Even too much of a good, nutrient-rich food can have adverse affects. As Elisa Zied, author of “Feed Your Family Right!” states: “Foods like nuts are nutrient rich, but if you overeat them you can pack on the pounds, and that defeats the purpose.”

 It is crucial to have six essential nutrients daily, according to AIDS.gov. And these nutrients are: protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals, and water. You should avoid consumption of raw meats, seafood, and eggs. And always remember to clean your fruits and vegetables well before eating them.  HIV affects the immune system of the person diagnosed, and because of this, those diagnosed are at a greater risk for contracting food-bourne illnesses.

Simply by changing your diet, you can combat diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses that impact large percentages of our communities.  The Center for Disease Control found that 18.8 million individuals in 2010 had diagnosed cases of diabetes, while 7.0 million people had undiagnosed cases.  And that’s not all; minorities appear to have higher chances of being diagnosed with diabetes. The Office of Minority Health found that African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Through research, they also found that African American adults are 40% more at risk to have high blood pressure, and in 2009 had 30% chance of fatality due to heart disease. These numbers show us that health should be a major concern in the minority communities. By adjusting the diet of those at risk of chronic illnesses, the growing percentages can slow down once and for all.  

Superfood is defined as a “food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and wellbeing.” These simple, health plentiful superfood ingredients can help put your health on a pedestal where it belongs.

Superfoods can also help you feel more energetic. The following are some of the most powerful superfoods and the impact they can have on your body when consumed in proper moderation:

  • Avocado: is a healthy fat containing vitamin E—great for your skin.
  • Eggs: just one egg has 6 grams of protein and they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.                                                                                                  
  • Nuts: such as almonds are full of nutrients and help lower blood pressure. They are noted as ‘the most energy packed and nutritionally dense’ foods.
  • Salmon: bursting with omega-3 fatty acids
  • Yams: aid in healthy productions of serotonin, wound healing, and nervous system function. Yams are a great source of vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber.
  • Lentils: full of folate and Vitamin B.
  • Spinach: Vitamin K that helps build bones and prevents blood clots.
  • Brown rice: contains magnesium that aids in building bones and creating energy.                                                    
  • Acai: is a berry that has high levels of antioxidants and is known as ‘nature’s energy fruit’. Oprah’s featured Dr. Perricone notes it as “one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world!”
  • Yogurt: full of calcium, probiotics and promote great health and digestion

       While the previous foods have been constantly noted in various web publications and medical pages, it is important to consult your doctor and never to self-diagnose. If you have any questions or concerns about your diet or food safety, visit a dietician for more information.

 

September 5, 2013
by Liaacinc
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World Suicide Prevention Day

by: Gail Barouh

An important date approaching is September 10th, which is marked as World Suicide Prevention day. At 8 pm, this day will be observed by lighting a candle near a window in the name of suicide prevention. The International Association for Suicide Prevention formed this national day in order to: prevent suicidal behaviors, alleviate the effects of suicidal behavior, and to create a forum for suicide survivors, crisis workers, volunteers, mental health professionals, and academics. The organization wishes to reduce stigma, which has proved to be a large impediment in the field of suicide prevention.

Suicide is one of the many substantial issues concerning our world today. In a recent New York Times article, research found that more people die of suicide than from car accidents, and in the last ten years, the suicide rate has increased by nearly 30% in Americans ages 35 to 64. Researchers link the increasing suicide rate in middle aged Americans with the recent tough economic times within the country.

The Office of Minority Health found that the suicide rates differ among ethnic groups as well and some ethnicities display disparities between population and suicide rate. Research found that American Indian and Alaska Native populations had a suicide rate which was 91 percent higher than any other races in the U.S. In the nation, Asian American Pacific Islander women have the highest rates of suicide in the age group of 15 to 24 year olds.

The Suicide Awareness Voices of Education iterates the facts:

  •  Depression is the upmost risk factor for suicide
  •  In those the ages of 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death
  • From 1952-1995, rates of suicide in young adults tripled.
  •  In the United States, the spring holds the highest rates of suicide
  • Suicide by means of firearm is the most common

Some signs of depression that can warn you of possible suicidal behavior are:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Humiliation
  •  Expressing that there is no reason to live.
  • Loss of interest in things the person once enjoyed.
  • Social isolation from friends and family.
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Showing sudden rage or irritability.
  • Voicing that the person wants to kill himself/herself.

Any person who shows any of the aforementioned depression symptoms should receive help from a physician or mental health professional. Action must be taken to ensure the person’s safety. Always receive treatment and help for depression or anxiety.

On September 10th, The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) will be sponsoring an activity for Suicide Prevention, named: Cycle Around the Globe. The organization describes this activity as a “challenge to see if we can all contribute to collectively cycle this distance (the world’s circumference) for World Suicide Prevention Day. Please join us and help us reach this target. It does not matter how far you can cycle, every kilometer or mile will be added to the total and there are no limits, you can cycle at home, in the gym or outside.” To participate in Cycle Around the Globe, you can sign up on the IASP website and pledge $10 for the cause.

In order to make this September 10th a yearlong occurrence– remember the importance of suicide prevention.

August 22, 2013
by Liaacinc
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LIAAC Attends Brentwood’s Annual Health Fair for the Community

On Saturday, July 27th, LIAAC was among many other reputable organizations to attend the Annual Health Fair for the Community at the Rock of Salvation Church in Brentwood. The event was bursting with food, music, families, volunteers, Long Island’s non-profit organizations, and fun. Some of the other organizations in attendance were: Island Harvest, Family Service League, Community Action Partnership, Sisters United in Health, Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Attendees enjoyed face painting and barbeque foods. Among the sights of the tables lined to voice their organization’s cause, there was the local police department, which had a rotating cop car simulator. The local fire department could not be out done with a fire safety display. Children and firefighters extinguished simulated fires.

 

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone, Office of Community Services and Minority Health, along with Voces Latinas/Childcare Providers Making the Difference, presented the event. The health fair was held from 11 am until 3 pm and the weather enabled the fun and education to keep on progressing through the day. LIAAC attended with two mobile outreach vans that provided free HIV testing for the duration of the fair. Community members waited to utilize the HIV testing services and learned their diagnosis in brief time, while others signed up for free blood pressure screenings. 

 Health fairs such as these are a reminder of what is truly important: our health and our safety. The event had significant attendance from Suffolk County’s Hispanic community. According to data from the New York State Department of Health, the Hispanic population on Long Island composes 28% percent of the newly diagnosed AIDS cases, but Hispanic populations only represent 16.5% of Suffolk County and 14.6% of Nassau.  By witnessing the large numbers of people ready to learn about health and safety, LIAAC is assured that the community is health conscious and educated on their health status. Once those in our communities are educated– we can make positive changes. To learn more on upcoming Health events and news, be sure to follow LIAAC on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

 

July 31, 2013
by Liaacinc
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President Obama Vows to Direct Attention to AIDS Research

by: Gail Barouh

President Obama has been the target of criticism after being addressed as not fully supporting the AIDS epidemic. Most of the disapproval began to speak louder volumes proceeding Obama’s trip to Africa this summer.  Critics have argued that since Obama’s release of his 2010 AIDS strategy little progress has been made.  Even Michael Weinsten, the President and co-founder of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation stated: “The Obama administration’s commitment to AIDS has been disappointing.”

Well, President Obama put concern to rest yesterday when he decided to re-address AIDS concerns.

According to the Washington Times: “President Obama issued an executive order Monday to enhance the federal government’s response to ‘the ongoing domestic HIV epidemic,’ including expanded testing.”  The executive order emphasized the high importance of early treatment and aggressive testing.

Other media coverage such as Yahoo News brought about the information that as a part of this new order those chosen to be on the forefront of research are Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius and The Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, Grant Colfax.

What is behind most of the criticism is the comparison between President Obama and President Bush’s attention towards funding AIDS research.  President Bush notably enacted PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which cost an estimated $15 billion.

In sixth months from now, the officials addressing AIDS research will issue a report of their findings. Hopefully, Obama’s executive order will bear positive results for the AIDS fight.  

July 31, 2013
by Liaacinc
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Surviving the Heat Wave This Summer

by: Gail Barouh

It’s that time of the year again when the summer heat reaches unbearable levels. Long Island, along with the rest of the country is facing a heat wave. Temperatures in Death Valley, California reached 128 degrees. While in Arizona, the temperatures allowed a wildfire to spread and claim the lives of 19 firefighters.

During the heat waves our communities face it is crucial to protect your health from the scorching temperatures. Some health complications you may face are: heat exhaustion–which causes nausea, dizziness, or fainting. Another potential health problem is heat stroke, which may cause confusion, headache, breathing complications, or seizures in extreme cases.  However, these heat-driven illnesses can be stopped in their tracks by following some of these steps:  

1.     Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water to avoid exhaustion. However, be sure to avoid liquids that can further dehydrate you such as alcohol and coffee.

2.     Try not to spend long periods of time outside during a heat wave. To be safe spend more time indoors. If traveling is a necessity, travel at night when temperatures go down.

3.     Never leave children or pets inside of a parked car. Parked cars can reach temperatures of at least 100 degrees in no time. 

4.     Avoid strenuous exercise in the event of a heat wave

5.     Be sure to wear light and loose fitting clothing. By wearing looser clothing you will not constrict yourself and increase body temperatures. Avoid black colored clothing because it is known to absorb sunlight.

6.     Be sure to pay closer attention to: pets, the elderly, and young children who can be affected most by the high temperatures.

 

These precautions can help you bear the heat this summer. During these heat waves spend time at the mall, the movies, or at a pool. LIAAC hopes you enjoy your summer and spend it in both a healthy and positive way!