I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. The AIDS crisis was raging. Along with many others, I was left feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and scared. I was lucky I had diving which gave me something positive to focus on, a goal, something I was familiar with. Today, I'm healthy and happy. The problem is, then like now, millions without access or support continue to struggle in the face of HIV/AIDS. This is why organizations like AIDS Service Center NYC (ASCNYC) are vital. NOW more than ever... now that we have an incoming President who might not support those living with HIV/AIDS. Not just financial, but emotional support -- of LGBTQ as well as people of different sex, races or religions. HIV/AIDS doesn't discriminate; it is a virus!
I recently had the privilege of visiting with the incredible staff and peer educators at ASCNYC. It was exciting to see success in action! ASCNYC's individualized, full-service approach helps people struggling with addiction, stigma, mental illness, and other challenges to get their health back on track. Since it opened its doors in 1991, the agency has inspired positive change in the lives of tens of thousands. In 2015 alone, ASCNYC provided care to 5,733 clients and reached more than 18,300 city residents through innovative peer education and community outreach initiatives.
Nationwide, the communities most at risk are men who are black or Latin, gay or bisexual, MSM (men who have sex with men, but do not identify as gay or bisexual), transgender, intravenous substance users, and low-income or living in poverty. In New York, these are the groups ASCNYC works so hard to help.
Need help or hope? Contact ASCNYC. On Tuesday, November 29, I will proudly join ASCNYC at their 25th-anniversary celebration and fundraiser in New York. I'm honored to be named as one of ASCNYC's 2016 Changemakers. I'm in good company, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also been named. As a keynote speaker at the event, I look forward to sharing my journey and to inspiring others. Join us! Tickets are available here.
I support ASCNYC's efforts and hope others will do the same. Together, we can overcome the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, improve the lives of those living with it and most importantly work towards finding a cure. Thank you for your ongoing support and compassion.