Rachel’s Service Day Reflection

For the YPI project completed on Service Day, my group and I chose the devastating issue of HIV/AIDs in NYC. This disease can be transmitted through blood transfusions, needle exchanges, occupational contact, sexual relations, and pregnancy. Specifically, any contact with amniotic, genital, cerebrospinal, and synovial fluids can cause people to develop the disease. This issue popularly arose in New York City in the 1980’s, mainly in homosexual men and continues to trouble all races and sexualities of the population of New York City. In New York state, 129,000 people live with HIV/AIDs, 80% of this population resides in New York City. This year, 4,000 people will be diagnosed with HIV/AIDs in New York, and in the first half of 2011, 93% of the women who were infected were either black or hispanic. A positive correlation exists between homelessness and HIV/AIDs, since it is such a costly disease that can affect many parts of the body. With the weakening of the immune system, many health problems arise that need medical attention. In order to protect the city managed services, the New York City council spends over $10 million per year on this issue. We found an organization, originating in New York City, that thrives to serve and aid people in this unfortunate state of living with HIV/AIDs with no shelter or services to live for much longer.

Housing Works, originally a sect of Act Up that aims for the same goals, is a non for profit organization that seeks to help HIV/AIDs ridden people who are struggling with shelter and finances. They offer several programs and services, as well as the most important to this population, housing. With locations in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan, singles, families, women, and people in a transgender transition stage can all have a place to sleep at night. In addition to housing, Housing Works, supports clean needle exchange, dental care, home care management, harm reduction, and medical care centers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Through thrift and book shops, the organization raises money to support these services and the people who depend on them. The stores also hire clients that have or do currently live in their housing in order to get back to a sane life and learn how to be successful.

When we began researching this issue, I did not realize how drastically this virus still affects people today or the fact that homelessness is related to the contraction of HIV/AIDs. Through research, I have learned more about this issue and how to develop presentable information on such a difficult topic. I also learned how to coordinate meetings with and discuss these issues with professionals such as the people we met with at Housing Works. One of the most challenging aspects of this project was finding a way to convey the audience that HIV/AIDs is more present than one would expect through our slide show and the significance of the care Housing Works provides for people. www.housingworks.org

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