Serving Long Island for over 25 years, the success of Long Island Association for AIDS Care is rooted in dedicated partnership and vital understanding of the communities with which the agency works. When assisting populations in need, LIAAC strives to achieve the highest degree of representation and cultural competence in every aspect of operation from the hiring process and staff training, to the inclusion of client input in program development. For their efforts, LIAAC has been recognized by the Federal Government as a minority-serving organization, and awarded federal, state & local grants including those under SAMHSA-Congressional Black Caucus and the Office of Minority Health.
LIAAC employees come from a diverse range of backgrounds. Many are bilingual English/Spanish or fluent in various other languages. Helping to ensure an understanding of, as well as an appreciation for the culture of those being served, program staff are selected based partly on background and experiences that mirror the racial, ethnic, linguistic and sexual orientation composition of the targeted communities. Including individuals living with HIV, in recovery from substance use, and those who have experience working with mental health and homeless populations, our staff encompasses a sense of empathy and common perspective with that of our clients.
All staff at the Long Island Association for AIDS Care receives recurrent supervision regarding cultural sensitivity, and attend in-service and external diversity trainings in order to generate highly productive interactions with coworkers as well as clients of backgrounds different from their own. Dr. Gail Barouh, President and CEO of non-profit LIAAC, is also the creator of the groundbreaking 2005 Diversity Training DVD series Mirror Images, which teaches agency staff and organizations nationwide how to address and utilize diversity within the workplace. This type of training assists staff, including the evaluator, in producing appropriate outcome measures and fostering a work environment that cultivates tolerance and empathy. Among agencies that serve as diverse a clientele as LIAAC, such skills are indispensable.
Members of the target population are often involved in the planning of services and program implementation, such as adopting outreach locations and approaches specifically designed with input of the MSM population or recently incarcerated individuals. Particularly, LIAAC utilizes the expertise of our clients through client surveys and our Consumer Advisory Board to ensure that materials are culturally relevant and accessible. More than two decades of working closely with clients has enabled LIAAC to become a catalyst in the development of reliable, accessible, and targeted community-based responses in Long Island's high need racial and ethnic minority populations. As a result, staff has garnered expertise in cultural competency, specifically with adolescent and adult Black and Hispanic males and females, who are at risk for HIV, HCV and other STDs through unprotected sexual activity and/or Intravenous Drug Use (IDU) and needle sharing.
At LIAAC, it is also understood that while the success of an intervention relies on effective implementation, it essentially depends on whether the client is able to identify with the concepts presented and integrate those new strategies into their lifestyle. Therefore, staff are trained to administer services and collect data while maintaining fidelity to the program's fundamental core elements. Interventions are then infused with culturally sensitive components that facilitate the client's learning process and bolster program participation. Such enhancements may include using approved low-literacy brochures, offering wheelchair-accessible mobile testing sites, or broadening communication capabilities to include TTD/TTY and American Sign Language translation for the hearing impaired, bilingual outreach and hotline workers, or verbal provision of information for those unable to read, to ensure that all clients are afforded the opportunity to make informed choices. Combining skilled experience with reliable judgment, this approach makes certain that LIAAC's services are sound and evidence-based, as well as culturally sensitive to the needs of Long Island's high-risk populations.