The MOCHA Center’s Executive Director Speaks at World AIDS Day in Rochester.

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Text to the Speech:

12/1/2014 – World AIDS Day Speech – Rochester, NY | Bruce E. Smail, Executive Director | The MOCHA Center, Inc.

Good Evening,

  • 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the USA — I am 1 of the 1.1 million.
  • In 2012, 3,316 new HIV diagnoses in New York — 42.0% Black, 30.7% Hispanic, 20.3%White — 42% look like me
  • In the State of New York, I am the only black man openly living with HIV serving as an Executive Director/CEO of an HIV/AIDS organization.
  • In this country, I am only aware of one other Black man living with HIV/AIDS serving as Executive Director/CEO of an HIV/AIDS organization — I am sure our numbers are less than a dozen.
  • I run one of the two remaining black HIV/AIDS organizations founded by and for Black & Latino gay men in the state of New York.
  • What is wrong with this picture?
  • Are we valuing the voices of Black Men Living with HIV in this epidemic?
  • Who is represented at the Leadership of HIV/AIDS Organizations?
  • Who is included and excluded in the original End of the Epidemic Task Force in the State of New York — While I was asked 2 weeks ago to serve on the Task Force, this was after much advocacy and highlighting the omission.
  • At events like this — World AIDS Day — why is my voice the only voice representing People Living with HIV/AIDS?

Today, World AIDS Day, is a significant moment to pause and reflect on the many lives lost to AIDS, the many men and women living with HIV and AIDS, and our collective struggle to end the AIDS Pandemic.

I am a black, Caribbean, bisexual, HIV positive man leading an HIV/AIDS organization in Rochester and Buffalo New York. February 10, 2003, I had my first reactive test which led to my HIV diagnosis. Since that point, I was open about my status and have had opportunities to lead two organizations serving largely Black & Latino communities — The Virgin Islands Community AIDS Resource & Education in St. Croix and the MOCHA Center in Western NY.

In December 2013, I decided to begin medication using the once a day anti-retroviral drug – Stribild. In less than 30 days, I was undetectable and my t-cell jumped to over a 1,000.  At my last lab work in November, the viral load was undetectable and the CD4 was 898.This decision was based on conversations with top biomedical researchers as well as my primary care physician. The deciding factor for me was the newer research about untreated HIV causing inflammation to other organs in the body. My t-cells were at 700 and viral load was around 1,000 — so this was not an absolute necessary step and one in which I waited over 11 years. We must find new ways of helping PLWH understand the latest research and the risks involved in delayed treatment.

Whether we look locally, in the state of NY, or nationally, the pandemic has always disproportionately impacted communities of color. This is not new news. For people like me, Black and engaged sexually with men, we are impacted with the highest new cases and the highest numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS. This isn’t about culture rather there are many social determinants that impact the health disparities of communities of color — yes HIV/AIDS – but also most other health issues.

We as New Yorkers as well as citizens of this country need to take on a collective responsibility of ending the epidemic. No longer can we assume HIV/AIDS does not touch our lives. We all have family, friends, and colleagues that are sexual and in many cases are having unprotected sex.   The risk of HIV is closer to home than you may think.

Are we having the real conversations with folks? If unprotected sex is real in our communities, why is this discussion so taboo? We need to have honest conversations and focus on harm reduction at the very least. We need to create honest dialogues around risks, viral suppression vs unknown viral status, and PrEP vs unprotected sex.

We also need to be sure that People of Color, Living with HIV/AIDS are at the table in discussions, policy development, and decisions regarding the end of the epidemic. If viral suppression is key to this end — People Living with HIV/AIDS must have a voice at the table.

As I end my comments, I ask you to remember this one thing –are People of Color Living with HIV/AIDS represented at your decision tables and/or events? If we are disproportionally affected, our voices are essential in helping us reach the End of the Epidemic. The core of the End of Epidemic is based on PLWHA being in care and virally suppressed. If you look around your table or at your event and we are not represented or have a central voice —- Then You Have Not Done Your Part to End the Epidemic!!! True allies create space for the silenced voices to be heard —- they don’t speak on their behalf!

World AIDS Day – Rochester – December 1, 2014

Join the MOCHA Center and several organizations sponsoring the World AIDS Day 2014 in Rochester, New York on Monday, December 1st at:

New Bethel CME Church
270 Scio St, Rochester, NY 14605
6:30PM, Service begins at 7:00PM.

The MOCHA Center Comments on Cuomo’s AIDS Task Force

The Executive Director, Bruce Smail, was interviewed briefly by Gay City News regarding Governor Cuomo’s AIDS Task Force and its composition. As stated in the article, two of the remaining organizations in the state founded by Black gay and bisexual men to address HIV/AIDS —- The MOCHA Center and Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) — were not invited to serve on the Task Force. Considering the demographics of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the State of New York as well as the country, the absence of these organizations on the Task Force is a major oversight and misses the critical voices necessary for the change desired by the state. Please see the article in the Gay City News: Gay City News regarding Cuomo’s AIDS Task Force

MOCHA Consulting Services – November/December Courses

MOCHA Consulting Services – November/December Courses

Earlier this summer the MOCHA Center announced the launch of its MOCHA Consulting Services (MCS). MCS is a fee-for-service initiative dedicated to bridging the gaps to health and wellness for LGBT POC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender People of Color). MCS utilizes a multifaceted approach to capacity building for individuals and organizations that serve LGBT POC through consulting, speaking engagements, trainings, workshops, and research. MCS’s stellar faculty of academics, educators, community based service providers, and researchers have extensive experience addressing the disparate and unique needs of LGBT POC within the United States and abroad.

We are pleased to announce the following eight courses for November and December:

  • November 6, 4pm-7pm – LGBTQ Issues in K-12 Schools: Framework & Strategies for Educators – Dr. Ed Brockenbrough & Kelly Clark
  • November 14, 8:30am-12:30pm – Working with LGBTQ Victims of Domestic Violence – Kelly Clark
  • November 21, 8am-5pm – Diversity & Intersections of Identity – Tomás Boatwright
  • December 4, 1pm-5pm – LGBTQ 101 – Tomás Boatwright
  • December 12, 8am-5pm – Empowering Social Justice Advocates – Bruce Smail
  • December 13, 10:30am-12pm – The Non-Traditional Family Structure vs. Traditional Family Theories – Dr. Kamila Barnes & Dr. Orlando Harris
  • December 13, 1pm-4pm – Quality Improvement: Why Improve Outcomes? – Dr. Kamila Barnes
  • December 15, 2pm-4pm – Transgender Basics – Kelly Clark

Additional details on the courses with links to the registration is available at http://mochacenter.org/consulting-services/courses/.

All courses are held in the MOCHA Center Rochester’s Training Center located at 189 N. Water Street, Suite 1 (Riverside Lower Level). Additional information about MCS is located on our website at http://mochacenter.org/consulting-services/. Faculty bios and resumes are also available at http://mochacenter.org/consulting-services/faculty/.

Registration is conducted through an online service – EventBrite.com. Please see the link associated with each course.

If you have additional questions, please contact consulting@mochacenter.org or (585) 420-1400 x108.

MOCHA Center Launches New Initiative

The MOCHA Center assembled a strong team of consultants, speakers, trainers, and researchers to bridge the gaps to health and wellness for LGBTPOC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender People of Color). MOCHA Consulting Services (MCS) is here for your organization and the faculty will create innovative solutions to address areas including: HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, Social Justice, Communities of Color, Diversity, Intimate Partner Violence, Oppression, Intersectionality of Identities, Cultural Competency, Health Disparities, Bullying, Family Engagement, Leadership, Youth Cultures, and Caribbean MSM.

The 2014-15 MCS Faculty: Bruce E. Smail, Dr. Ed Brockenbrough, Jasan M. Ward, Dr. Kamila Barnes, Kelly Clark, Melanie Funchess, Dr. Mitchell J. Wharton, Dr. Orlando Harris, Dr. Stanley Byrd, and Tomas Boatwright. The synergy of academic, non-profit, higher education, mental health, and medical are major assets for MOCHA Consulting Services.

For more information or to schedule consultants, speakers, trainers, or researchers for your organization, please contact: consulting@mochacenter.org | (585) 420-1400 x17.

MOCHA Consulting Services

Meet the MCS Faculty

It’s Official – A New Home for MOCHA Center Rochester

It’s Official – A New Home for MOCHA Center Rochester

MOCHA Rochester’s New Home

We are very excited to announce that the MOCHA Center Rochester will be moving into our new home in September. Our 10 year legacy at 107 Liberty Pole Way is quickly coming to a close. September 12, 2014 will be our last day of operation at Liberty Pole. We will provide more details in the coming weeks about our Farewell Celebration.

We will be packing, moving, and organizing our new space from September 13 – 28. Our new office at 189 N Water Street, Riverside Lower Level, Rochester, NY will be open for business on Monday, September 29th. We will also host an Open House in mid-October. Details to follow shortly.

Our new space will also house our new Training Center for the MOCHA Consulting Services.

Do You Know Your HIV Status?


The MOCHA Center is pleased to offer HIV Testing our Buffalo and Rochester Offices. We utilize the 20 minute OraQuick HIV Test. There are no needles in our testing. It is also free and confidential. Walk-In Testing is available daily:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays: 10:00am – 1:00 pm
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays: 3:30pm – 6:30pm

Knowing you status is the first step in reducing the spread of HIV in our communities.

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