See How the Play Sure Safer Sex and HIV Prevention Kit Works



(March 22, 2017, New York) — Do you know how to Play Sure and prevent HIV infection during a sexual encounter? The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) is among the organizations that distribute Play Sure safer sex kits in New York City. In the video above, NBLCA’s vice president of programs Eishelle Tillery and staff member Steven Fernandez demonstrate the use of the discreet, easy-to-carry kit, which includes condoms, a lubrication packet and room for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to prevent HIV infection.

Learn more at NYC.gov.

NBLCA VP Tells NY1 What’s at Risk for HIV Testing and Care If the ACA is Repealed


What will happen to people living with HIV and those at risk under the House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act?  “The ACA put a lot focus and money into preventative services, like HIV testing and PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis HIV treatment] and access to care,” NBLCA’s vice president of programs, Eishelle Tillery, told Spectrum News NY1’s Erin Billups in a televised report that ran on Sunday.

Watch the video on NY1 to hear what else she said about the future of healthcare coverage and HIV if those services are cut back.

Then read NBLCA’s statement on the House GOP’s repeal and replace plan.

Talking HIV and Stigma: NBLCA CEO with Carol Jenkins on CUNY-TV

On March 1 the  president and CEO of National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), C. Virginia Fields, sat down with veteran interviewer Carol Jenkins, host of Black America on CUNY-TV and spoke about the status of the HIV epidemic.

“Here we are more than 35 years since we first became aware of what AIDS is,” said Ms. Fields. “Tremendous progress has been made, there’s no question. We have antiretroviral treatment, so that if a person is diagnosed they can get into care, treatment and live a better quality of life. We have more information around the science, research – how to prevent and how to treat. Unfortunately, there still is no cure for HIV, but we like to tell people it is preventable….”

“Yet, Black Americans, African Americans are disproportionately impacted: black gay men, black men who have sex with men, and black heterosexual women, as well as transgender women. So that our work at the Commission is to educate, empower and mobilize black leaders in their local communities to address all of these challenges, not only HIV/AIDS, but Hepatitis C.”

Watch the rest of the interview, which also covers the role of stigma, in the video above or on the YouTube channel for CUNY-TV.

WATCH: Queens Faith Community Members Learn How to Combat Hepatitis C

(December 30, 2016, Cambria Heights, N.Y.) — On Dec. 23 members of the Queens borough community in New York City learned to combat the silent epidemic of Hepatitis C during a capacity building workshop on the liver infection presented by Mt. Moriah A.M.E. Church in Cambria Heights and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA).

Yvette James-Robinson of C.O.P.E. Health led the presentation on Hepatitis C shown in the video above (courtesy of Mt. Moriah A.M.E.). It was given as part of NBLCA’s Community of Color Counseling, Testing and Referral program, a faith–based HIV/AIDS initiative involving several dozen faith-based organizations throughout New York City.  This initiative is funded by the New York City Council and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Working with a broad spectrum of community leaders, clergy, NBLCA achieves its mission through programming in HIV/ STI/Hepatitis C education, screening, testing, capacity building, technical assistance, insurance navigation, policy and advocacy, and leadership development.

Health Action TV: Helping Haiti with HIV and More

This past October the Caribbean nation of Haiti, still struggling to recover from an earthquake in 2010, was hit by Hurricane Matthew. Health conditions deteriorated even further in the aftermath.  On Dec. 18 during the latest episode of Health Action TV, host C. Virginia Fields of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) interviewed Carine Jocelyn, CEO of Diaspora Community Services and Marie Marthe Saint Cyr, executive director of the Lambi Fund of Haiti about current conditions in Haiti, as well as health needs of the Haitian immigrant population here in New York City.

The economic devastation of the recent natural disasters in Haiti, on top of chronic poverty, complicate any efforts to address sexually transmitted diseases, especially in women, said St. Cyr.  Protecting life and family vie with protecting health for many. “No matter where you turn, you have the risk for HIV, STDs increasing with such a high level of unemployment among women….The dependency of sex exchange for money is clearly there and the indicators in Haiti continuously show increased HIV among youth, increased HIV among poor women.”

Back in New York City, efforts to address HIV in Haitian communities also face special complications. “In the early 90s Haitians were very much stigmatized as the carriers of HIV, and while that may be 20 years ago, there certainly is a long-term effect that happens,” said Jocelyn. While the CDC stopped labeling Haitians as a high-risk group in 1985 and the FDA’s ban on blood donations by Haitians was lifted in 1990, the stigma persists. “I think the effect of that is unfortunately kind of regressing in terms of the community not wanting to talk about it.”

Especially vulnerable are undocumented immigrants who are living with HIV, noted Jocelyn. Stigma, illiteracy and immigration status can converge to leave them hiding in the shadows without treatment. “We don’t want them living with HIV and AIDS and getting sicker,” she said. “We have this program…the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, that really allows these folks to come forward, receive confidential, quality care, and access to health insurance, which is extremely important now with potential changes to the Affordable Care Act.”

Watch the full episode above, which also touches on addressing the health needs of Haitians in ways that are sustainable, with long term impact.

Catch other episodes of Health Action TV  on YouTube, or MNN (check the web site for air times and channel listings).

WATCH: NBLCA Syracuse’s Mannequin Challenge: A Holiday Crowd Pleaser

This week the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.’s Syracuse affiliate held a holiday party in celebration with our the emerging young leaders, graduates of the Popular Opinion Leaders program who are addressing HIV and AIDS with their peers.

The festivities weren’t complete without this flawless (if wavily-rendered) execution of the Mannequin Challenge.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Shown: NBLCA Syracuse staff and emerging young leaders at the 2016 holiday party.

Shown: NBLCA Syracuse staff and emerging young leaders at the 2016 holiday party.

Health Action TV: Reaching African Immigrants on HIV and AIDS

It is well known that sub-Saharan African has been hardest hit by HIV and AIDS worldwide. What is less talked about is what is being done to address the health of Africans here in New York City.

In the latest episode of Health Action TV, host C. Virginia Fields of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) spoke with Bakary Tandia, a case worker and policy advocate for African Services Committee. Based in Harlem, ASC is dedicated to assisting immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from across the African Diaspora.

To meet the challenges of reaching African immigrants with HIV/AIDS services, ASC employs a holistic approach. Tandia explained, “You cannot just ask people to come for testing and linkage to care if you do not have a good understanding of other issues. For instance, we know that most of our people are in need of immigration services and legal services…someone can be harassed in his or her own apartment because that person doesn’t understand fully his rights.”

Other examples he gave were housing and nutrition support. “If you are linked to care and you are living in the streets you will not be able to fully adhere to your treatment. That’s why we have a housing component for that. Access to treatment is not just swallowing pills. It’s also understanding what you eat, what you put into your body. We have nutrition services for educating people. Even if you don’t have HIV/AIDS…you need to know what to eat.”

Ms. Fields noted that a holistic approach is also needed to address HIV/AIDS in U.S. native-born communities.

Watch the video above to hear more of their conversation.

Catch other episodes of Health Action TV  on YouTube, or MNN (check the web site for air times and channel listings).

Health Action TV: Expanding HIV and AIDS Outreach in Long Island

NBLCA’s Health Action TV: Fighting HIV/AIDS in Long Island from Manhattan Neighborhood Network on Vimeo.

When we talk about HIV/AIDS in New York State, the conversation tends to focus on New York City, which bears the heaviest burden.

However, Nassau and Suffolk Counties combined had over 6,200 people in them living with AIDS and/or HIV as of the end of 2013. People of color are disproportionately hit.

Even though these 2 counties are majority-white, 28 percent of people with HIV and/or AIDS diagnoses living there are black and 33 percent are Hispanic.

In the latest episode of Health Action TV, host C. Virginia Fields of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) spoke with Barbara Laing, program coordinator for the Nassau affiliate of NBLCA and Johnny Mora, program coordinator for the Suffolk affiliate.

“In Nassau County what I’m finding is that there is a lack of education and knowledge about HIV, Hepatitis C and health disparities in general,” explained Laing. After doing a small survey, NBLCA’s affiliate there concluded that basic HIV education is a critical need. “What we found out is that in the Freeport/Hempstead/Uniondate/Rockville Centre communities a lot of people are not knowledgeable on even how the HIV virus is spread.” [Here, for the record, is how.]

Mora, who is spearheading the expansion of NBLCA’s outreach into Suffolk County, says among the challenges he encounters are people who may be knowledgeable but too complacent about their continuing risks of being infected or infecting others and resistant to being educated. For instance, they’ll say I’m on PrEP, I don’t need to know that anymore, Mora said.  Furthermore, he said, “What I’m encountering now a lot, when we go out to clubs and other LGBT places…it worries me now. [People are] saying ‘I’m married,'” and therefore not considering themselves to be at risk for HIV infection. (Of course, a wedding ring doesn’t provide any sort of protection against the virus.)

Watch the video above to hear more of their conversation.

Learn more about NBLCA’s outreach efforts in Long Island and how you can become involved, or be connected to testing and services. Laing can be contacted at blaing@nblca.org and (516) 253-5768; while Mora can be reached at jmora@nblca.org and (631) 402-5644.

Catch other episodes of Health Action TV  on YouTube, or MNN (check the web site for air times and channel listings).

Health Action TV: Raven Lopez Talks Living and Loving with HIV

Twenty-six-year-old Raven Lopez was born HIV-positive after her mother, HIV/AIDS advocate and care coordinator Michelle Lopez, was infected. Raven grew up knowing her status. The experience enabled her to gain her voice, sharing her experience on the Oprah Winfrey Show, at an AIDS Walk in 1999 at age 9, and through other outlets. The stigma she faced early in life, especially at school, was daunting. However, Lopez countered the ignorance with knowledge, as she explained to NBLCA’s CEO, C. Virginia Fields, during the latest episode of the Health Action TV series on Manhattan Neighborhood Network “Even though I got made fun of, bullied, food thrown on me, spit on, my hair cut, that still didn’t stop me from educating my peers and letting people know that just because I have HIV doesn’t make me less of a person or better than a person,” she explains. Educating young people about HIV/AIDS remains a challenge, however. According to the Centers for Disease Control, youth ages 13-24* account for 1 in 5 HIV diagnoses and 44% of 18-24 year-olds don’t even know they have the disease. Lopez thinks more attention from celebrities and media outlets that reach young people, like BET, could help get the message across and break down stigmas that keep people from getting tested or treated for HIV. “The stigma that people are still scared of is knowing their status [or thinking that] HIV is a death sentence. HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence anymore.” Currently, Lopez does high school visits to educate young people and also helps people living with HIV get access to care in her capacity as a pharmacy sales representative. Lopez, who has had an undetectable viral load for the past 7-8 years,  is also enjoying life as a new mother to a baby boy. She says her partner decided not to use the widely recommended Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment to prevent HIV transmission; however, measures such as having a Cesarean section delivery and giving medication to the newborn for the first 6 weeks of life have ensured that so far the baby has tested negative for HIV. “I love motherhood, it’s a beautiful experience. I just thank God every day for my baby,” she beams. See and hear more about what Lopez had to say in the video above, and catch other episodes of Health Action TV  on YouTube, or MNN (check the web site for air times and channel listings). *A previous version of this article misstated this statistic.

NBLCA’s Health Action TV: Talking Stigma With Nathan Kerr, LGBT Advocate

As part of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.’s ongoing Breaking The Stigma campaign, our Health Action TV series on Manhattan Neighborhood Network tackled the role of stigma in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Stigma, whether it relates to race, sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status,  can hinder the fight against HIV/AIDS by preventing people from coming forward to be tested, using prevention tools or getting treatment and staying in care. “Getting beyond stigma is crucial to fighting HIV/AIDS,” observed C. Virginia Fields, NBLCA’s president and CEO, in the televised discussion with Nathan Kerr, board chair of the Black LGBT Alliance of New York. Kerr noted the ways in which homophobic stigma can work in tandem with HIV stigma to keep individuals who need help from coming forward. “Stigma has been a ‘friend,’ if not a partner, to HIV and AIDS,” he explained. “Back in the day, I’m not sure which was more devastating to a young man who probably was not out to his family – who got infected and started dealing with the effects of that – whether it was a discovery that he may be HIV positive, or coming out [in terms of sexual orientation] to his friends or family or those who did not know.” See more of the conversation in the video above. Then learn more about the Breaking The Stigma campaign and follow it on YouTube,Twitter and Facebook at #BreakingTheStigma.