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March 20, 2009

Dr. Monica Sweeney, Asst. Commissioner, NYC Health Department and John Ferguson
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The Wall Street crisis is affecting all of us. Supporters of AIDS programs have less or nothing to give in spite of the fact that HIV infection rates are climbing in NYC at three times the national average. During this time of dramatic government cuts, it's a sign of hope—and a mark of pride—that ASC keeps drawing positive attention from city, state, and federal officials who have toured our offices.

To learn more about our peer education and HIV testing programs, NYC Health Department Assistant Commissioner Dr. Monica Sweeney visited ASC in January. "ASC is a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS," Dr. Sweeney said. "The organization helps people to know their status, builds community connections, and inspires New Yorkers to become leaders in the fight against AIDS by getting tested for HIV."

Even in a funding crunch, ASC's programs produce powerful results. At ASC, we have people living with HIV/AIDS receiving job skills training, leaving welfare and rejoining the workforce. We have ex-offenders and ex-addicts writing poetry; and we have women, survivors of childhood trauma and domestic violence, surviving, thriving and helping others.

"ASC's partnerships with medical providers, homeless shelters, and drug treatment programs preserve resources and expand services," said Humberto Cruz, Director of the NYS AIDS Institute, a funder of ASC programs since we opened our doors 18 years ago.

From the Federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, ASC also hosted behavioral scientist Dr. Jonny Andia and project officer Stan Phillip, who came to learn about our peer education services. And the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti is sponsoring a peer educator to attend ASC's Peer Training Program to bring lessons about HIV prevention and treatment adherence back home.

Behind these visits is a bigger story. ASC is gaining wider recognition for smart, strategic models of care that succeed through tough times. In 2008, through paid internships, ASC Peer Educators provided community outreach, prevention education, and escorts to HIV testing and doctor appointments for over 4,000 New York City residents. Services provided by ASC Peers equal that provided by 15 full-time staff, resulting in a cost savings of half a million dollars per year.

It's been really busy at ASC these past few months," says Sharen Duke, ASC Executive Director. "I couldn't be more proud of our staff, our Peers, and our community impact. ASC is doing our part to extend our community reach through peer education and partnerships with medical facilities so that New Yorkers can get the care and treatment they need. Our success is a direct result of government funders supporting us and standing with us to meet the challenges head on."

Photo: David Nager/ASCNYC

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