Donations Needed for HIV Testing Programs

HVCS isn’t afraid to have tough conversations. We shine a light on problems that thrive in the darkness. That’s only one of the tools we can use to bring new HIV infections to zero because of the support we have received from people like you. You have also inspired us to be the strongest of advocates in preventing HIV/AIDS.  That is why we would like to share with you Louis’ story.

Louis is twenty-four, has one more year of grad school, identifies as gay and is, by all outward appearances, happy and successful. Yet sometimes he doesn’t feel like he’s got it all together—he copes with low self-esteem and anxiety. He has a supportive family but feels like he’s not attractive or smart enough and worries about the future. Sometimes in social situations he relies on “liquid courage”—he has a few drinks. He wants a long-term commitment (and, one day, a husband) but knows that as a young gay man he’s at higher risk for HIV infection. The things he did to feel better about himself, like going out and drinking, only made things worse. “It felt like the odds were stacked against me,” he said. “I felt pretty hopeless and scared.”

Until he came in for a free HIV test offered our INFORM program, which specializes in HIV prevention for men who have sex with men.  The INFORM specialist told him that he could diminish his fear of contracting HIV by going on PrEP. The specialist connected him to a medical provider and worked out insurance coverage. He also referred Louis to a counselor to address his self esteem, supplied him with condoms, and discussed strategies for having a good time at parties without risking his health. “Now I always go with friends, and we make a pact to watch out for each other.” Louis feels more in control and  less anxious about the future now that he’s equipped with more tools to stay healthy. By helping us to activate an entire network of supports—from his doctor to his friends to his therapist—you’re helping Louis stay as healthy as possible while staying true to his dreams and goals.

We know you share our belief that a thriving Hudson Valley is made up of residents who are living their full potential: healthy, active and enjoying all the wonderful things that make this a great place to live. But even with nearly forty years of studying how and why HIV is transmitted, Hudson Valley residents are still being infected with HIV. So we still need your help.  Those who were at the highest risk decades ago are still at high risk because most people have a tough time talking about sexuality, desire, substance abuse, and race.  This silence, combined with entrenched stigma against those with AIDS, allows HIV to spread through our communities—communities we need to stay healthy and strong if we’re to be a vibrant, colorful Hudson Valley.

What if Louis hadn’t come to us for a free HIV test? Though we believe that HIV testing is an opportunity to educate and engage people at high risk for HIV, government contracts don’t cover the full cost of offering those HIV tests for free. Our prevention programs are now operating in the red–and we may be forced to conduct fewer tests.

So we invite you to join us once again in keeping HIV prevention in the conversation. Your contribution means we can keep our HIV prevention programs strong. So please continue to help us build healthy communities right here in the Hudson Valley. Preventing the spread of HIV now means that more people can live their full potential.

Please give today.

 

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