The MOCHA Center is excited to sponsor the first MOCHA SOIRÉE on Thursday, March 19, 2015 from 6:30-8:30pm. This classy fundraiser is a benefit for the MOCHA Center and will be held at Ballroom 384, 384 East Avenue, Rochester, NY. Tickets are $50.00 and will be on sale on February 1, 2015. Enjoy the music, silent auction, passed hors d’oeuvres, passed champagne, and a cash bar. An evening to remember and a new tradition for the MOCHA Center. Mark your calendar and join us for this classy evening affair on March 19th.
The MOCHA Center, Inc. is now listed as a non-profit organization with AmazonSmile. If you already shop at Amazon, you use your same user name and password but you go to www.smile.amazon.com, select The MOCHA Center, Inc. as your nonprofit organization. Once you purchase something, 5% of the cost is donated to the MOCHA Center. Here is a FAQ on AmazonSmile: http://smile.amazon.com/about/ref=smi_ge_ul_lm_raas.
Support the MOCHA Center and share with your family, friends, and colleagues.
Text to the Speech:
12/1/2014 – World AIDS Day Speech – Rochester, NY | Bruce E. Smail, Executive Director | The MOCHA Center, Inc.
- 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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org | (585) 420-1400 x17.
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.
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.