September 15, 2008

On June 27, ASC's vibrant new Public Service Announcement (PSA) on HIV testing debuted in the heart of Times Square. The 30-second PSA appeared on the CBS "Super Screen" on West 42nd Street throughout July and August, reaching thousands of New Yorkers and tourists. Using stark statistics and powerful images, the PSA highlights the importance of knowing one's HIV status and accessing medical care. ASC is proud to have used this larger-than-life medium to get its message out. We offer confidential HIV testing at our Union Square and East Harlem offices by appointment and on a walk-in basis free of charge. For more information about these services, call: (212) 645-0875 ext. 444.

September 15, 2008

ASC's workshops on HIV managed care are giving consumers the knowledge and tools they need to handle the coming changes at Medicaid.

After five years of voluntary enrollment into HIV Special Needs Plans (SNPs) for HIV-positive Medicaid recipients, the New York State Medicaid Director has announced a plan to implement mandatory managed care enrollment for all Medicaid recipients, including people living with HIV/AIDS. This change has serious implications for people living with HIV/AIDS, and ASC is taking action to respond.

Until now, HIV-positive Medicaid-eligible New Yorkers could access health care in any one of three different ways: Medicaid's fee-for-service program, a mainstream managed care plan (in the form of a traditional HMO), or an HIV SNP (a special type of HMO offering services designed to meet the distinctive needs of people living with HIV/AIDS).

Unfortunately, starting as early as January 2009, people living with HIV/AIDS will see their options narrowed. Medicaid recipients will soon be required to join a managed care plan, be it a SNP or an HMO. Those who don't make a decision quickly enough will be automatically assigned to a mainstream HMO by Medicaid. For many, this will mean losing access to their current physician and specialized HIV medical care.

We anticipate that this change will inadvertently disrupt the health care of many HIV-positive people, separating them from doctors and health care facilities they've come to trust and rely on. Moreover, without a vigorous statewide initiative to education people living with HIV/AIDS about the benefits of SNPs vs. mainstream HMOs, many PLWHAs will wind up getting less than optimal care with potentially devastating results.

Research—including a New York State Department of Health study—shows that people living with HIV who got medical care from an HIV SNP had better outcomes than those receiving care through generic HMOs or fee-for-service providers. SNP patients had the highest rates of prescriptions for antiretroviral medications, the highest rates of consistent viral load measurements, the fewest ER visits, and the highest referral rates for breast cancer screening, cholesterol screening, and dental care.

Given the significance of this data, ASC has launched an education campaign to alert Medicaid-eligible PLWHAs to the coming changes, inform them of the clear benefits of SNPs, and mobilize them to make informed decisions about their health care before Medicaid automatically assigns them to a mainstream HMO. We're now providing English/Spanish bilingual weekly consumer education workshops on HIV managed care options at our Union Square and East Harlem offices. We're also offering this workshop upon request to the clients at any of our sister agencies.

"HIV SNPs are by far the best bet for people living with HIV/AIDS," says ASC Executive Director/CEO Sharen Duke. "Our consumer education workshops inform people about their options, so they're prepared when these changes hit. Our goal is to make sure our community gets the best possible care from clinicians with proven HIV experience. If consumers don't get the information they need to make informed decisions about their medical care, the government is going to make these decisions for them."

For more information about ASC's weekly consumer education workshops on HIV managed care, or to schedule a workshop for the clients at your agency, contact Yelena at: 212-645-0875 x 325 or email: .

September 15, 2008

ASC's Safer Sex In The City '08 was bigger, better, and hotter than ever. (And just wait till next year...)

Partygoers mingled with celebrities during a fabulous evening at the summer's sexiest fundraiser, Safer Sex In The City 2008, promoting safer sex in the age of AIDS. This keystone fundraiser brought in over $80,000 in support of ASC's state-of-the-art services.

Held at Duvet—one of Manhattan's hottest nightclubs—the event kicked off with an exclusive VIP mini-party hosted by Project Runway star Kevin Christiana, Playboy Playmate Lindsey Vuolo, and Vivid Girl Savanna Samson. Throughout the evening, guests grooved to music by DJ Vic Latino and sizzling performances by club sensation amberRose Marie, hit singer Grace Garland, and the cast of Naked Boys Singing. Partygoers also enjoyed ASC's safer sex "demonstration" tables, erotic exhibits from The Museum of Sex, and our eclectic silent auction. Brown-Forman's open bar kept the good times flowing from start to finish.

Check out Safer Sex In The City 2008 photo highlights and a video montage created by PlayboyU.

September 15, 2008

Some things just have to be seen to be believed. ASC's peer education services change lives, instill hope, and open the door to health and well-being for hundreds of men and women who have struggled with addiction, HIV, and poverty.

Come see this work in action by joining us at the upcoming graduation ceremony for ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP), an intensive training that helps people affected by HIV/AIDS and in recovery from substance use to reach their full potential.

The event will include an unforgettable testimonial by a current PREP graduate and a keynote address by a past graduate. You'll also hear from ASC's executive staff and Board, enjoy refreshments, and celebrate with the graduates. Join us at 41 East 11th Street, 5th Floor for this inspiring event. For more information, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 303, or email

September 15, 2008

I'm one of the thousands of people whose health care will be affected by the coming switch to mandatory enrollment into Medicaid managed care. I'm so glad I got information about how to handle these changes from ASC.

I came to ASC in 1992 when I was first diagnosed with HIV and new to recovery. My case manager helped me get the services I needed and focus on staying clean. By 1995, my health was good and I felt strong in my recovery. I'd graduated from ASC's Peer Program and moved up from being an ASC Peer to a full-time staff member. But when my health went downhill, I had to leave my job and concentrate on getting my health back on track. All this time, I've stayed connected to ASC. I get case management services at ASC and am active as an ASC Peer one day a week.

For many years, my medical care has been covered under Medicaid's fee-for-service program, instead of managed care. I get routine and specialized HIV care at Montefiore's Comprehensive Health Care Center. My physician there is an HIV Specialist. She's thorough, she listens, and if there's something she doesn't know, she finds it out for me. When she says, "I'll call you with your lab results," she always calls. She also talks about recovery with me, and I feel respected and cared for.

All this time, I've stayed away from managed care because my health care was working for me as is. But recently, at ASC's training on managed care for people with HIV/AIDS, I found out that soon I will have to join a managed care plan. I also learned that if I don't make the choice myself, Medicaid will make it for me, and that might mean losing access to my current doctor. Now that I understand what's happening and how to deal with it, I'm going to follow my doctor to whatever managed care plan she's in.

If I were to give advice about making your HIV care the best it can be, I'd say, "Get all the information you possibly can to find out which plan suits you best. Get educated about the changes coming in 2009 so that you can get the best medical care possible. That's something we all deserve."

September 15, 2008

We're pleased to announce that HERS @ ASC (Honoring Everywoman's Right to Safety) was recently spotlighted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) as a national model of women's peer education programming. HERS @ ASC promotes women's long-term recovery from substance abuse using peer services that address the unique challenges women face in initiating and maintaining recovery.

The program was highlighted during SAMHSA's Annual Conference for Recovery Community Support Programs, held in Alexandria, Virginia in August. Members of the HERS @ ASC team facilitated conference workshops on peer leadership, gender-specific recovery service delivery, and the impact of childhood trauma on patterns of risk behavior in adulthood.

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