By Brittney Alvarez
Long Island Association For Aids Care, also known as LIAAC, held its annual free HIV and STD screening at the Babylon Student Center.
Long Island Association For Aids Care is a regional not-for-profit agency delivering free services to all Long Islanders. Services are provided to those affected and unaffected by HIV/Aids or any other STD. This agency has been a service on Long Island since 1986 but has only been at Suffolk Community College consistently for a year and a half.
According to Allison Gemma, a Suffolk County service manager many students have stated how convenient it is that LIAAC comes to Suffolk and provides testing for free as well as education on sex and how to prevent STD’s. Ever since LIAAC started holding their services at Suffolk there has been a good outcome, and many students that come with questions and concerns leave feeling educated as well as relieved after testing. Students who don’t have insurance also benefit from the testing because it’s free of charge.
Many people are unaware of how STD’s are spread, and how common it is in the United States leading to the increase in STD’s in recent years. According to LIAAC’s website, “STDs are spread from person to person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Some STDs, however, are also transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Some of the most common STDs are: HIV, Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts (HPV), gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis and trichomoniasis.” LIAAC wants people to be informed and educated about how easily sexually transmitted diseases are spread, the more people know the more it can be prevented.
“LIAAC doesn’t just help with educating about sex or HIV/STD screenings but we also provide brief intervention with substance abuse as well,” said Gemma. So many services are provided with LIAAC such as support groups and counseling, literature and condom distribution, and screen referrals. The screen referrals help send those with a significant problem with alcohol and substance abuse to rehabilitation centers.
When LIAAC is providing services at Suffolk only students can attend, during any other time of the year anyone can be tested. “Services are based on a mobile outreach, from Nassau to Suffolk. Professionally trained staff are available at your convenience,” said Gemma. All results pertaining to your testing stay confidential. If someone were to test positive for HIV/Aids it is required by law to report their name to the State Health Department. LIIAC can be reached on their hotline 1877-TO-LIAAC or http://www.liaac.org.