Join the family. We are the young people served by Project STAY.
This part of the program is for young people living with HIV/AIDS. That's us. Some of us have been here a long time, and others are new. We love Project STAY because they take care of you and help you feel comfortable. They bring you in, just like family.
We worked hard with Project STAY staff, social workers and doctors to create this website. We hope it's helpful and that you find the information you need.
If you want to know more, call Project STAY at 646-284-9732. Come in to see for yourself if this is the right place for you.
What's it like at Project STAY?
So, if you are like us, living with the virus, we know you have lots of questions. We sure did.
Below are some common questions, along with answers.
Project S.T.A.Y. stands for Services To Assist Youth. It's a clinic that provides health services. There are doctors, nurse-practitioners, and social workers to help you with whatever you need. Each of us sees different people and gets care depending on what's going on with us. Every provider (doctors, nurses, and social workers) knows each of us and can help us.
You can come see your doctors, nurse-practitioner, or social worker at the clinic on the following days and time:
Clinic at 21 Audubon (166th Street)
Mondays: 5pm to 8pm
Clinic at Farrell Community Health Center (158th Street)
Thursdays: 3pm to 6pm
If you need help or have questions at other times, call (646) 284-9732. They'll talk to you on the phone or you can come see someone at the clinic or in their office at 125th Street.
"Each of the doctors has their own personality, and they'll all help you with something." E.O., 22 yrs old.
There is a team to meet your needs at Project STAY. There are two doctors, a psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner and two social workers. You'll also meet other nurses, medical assistants, health educators and students who work with the main team. To learn more about each of these people, click here.
You can get help with just about anything. Project STAY staff will be straight with you and make you feel comfortable, no matter what the issue. The main job of the doctors and nurse-practitioner is to help you stay healthy by taking care of your physical health. The social workers help you deal with emotional or social issues, even if you just want to go in and vent. They've helped us handle all sorts of things, including:
- School (finding ways to attend and pay for school, etc.)
- Telling others about your status
- Finding supportive friends and family
Also, if you need to work on your resume or use the Internet, you can ask about their computer lab at the office on 125th.
Each person's situation is different, so you might come to the clinic more often or less, depending on your personal health.
How often you visit depends on what you need, how busy you are, and what you have going on in your life.
On Fridays, there is a support group for those dealing with HIV. Food is included.
"At first you be like, 'awww, I don't want to come', but after awhile you end up here, and then you can't leave. Everybody wind up coming to the group." -Omar, 18 yrs old
Only STAY staff members will see your chart. They keep your info private and separate from the other people at the clinic, and from everyone else. They will not tell your parents.
Project STAY is part of a general health clinic, so no one will know the specific reason you are at the clinic. There are young people there for many things, including broken toes or birth control. Unless you say something, no one knows why you are there or that you are positive.
So you just found out you're positive. We remember finding out and going deaf. Not hearing ANYTHING for those first few moments. Maybe you're angry, surprised, sad, shocked or feeling numb. We felt all those ways. Whatever you're feeling is normal, and you should know that you're not alone. Two young people are infected with HIV every hour of every day in the U.S.!
We want you to know...
You can still do the things you want to do...like go to school, get a job, hang out with friends, even have sex (safely!) and have a kid, if that's what you want.
We talked to some of those with HIV in the program about how they dealt with things at first. This is what they said:
"I ain't hear nothing because that one word triggers everything. I just went into a zone, didn't bug out or nothing, just heard ¡®blah, blah, blah'. It was my first time taking an HIV test". - K.G., 24 yrs old.
"I was mad. I didn't even cry, because I couldn't, cuz it was like that ain't gonna help it go away...lemme just get it together...best of all is to stay strong".- Omar
"I just went deaf, completely deaf. They gave me all the information I needed to take care of myself...but it was just like ¡®DAMN'". -D.S.
"It was like my whole life flashing before my eyes. My mom, she was positive already, so I'm like ¡®OH LORD, ME TOO?'...it was just like everything was crumbling...". -K.G.
"I told my boyfriend and it was just like ¡®YOU GOT WHAT? You don't look like you got it.'"-Omar
"I really wanted to cry and you could see that in my face, it's just that the emotion wasn't coming behind it because I was so over it...I needed to laugh because it was such bad news and the wrong time. I just thought ¡®don't sit there and dwell on it because you know you're gonna get help for it, you know you gonna get seen for it. There is no reason to sit there and mope about it. Just take care of yourself'". -D.S.
"It changed forever!" - K.G.
"I'm still in denial over it. It still hasn't hit me that bad yet. Kinda like nothin' happened". - L.A.
I feel that. To me, it changes me every day. Like sometimes it just makes me emotional. I just be up and start crying. Like, I be in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I'll just cry". -Omar
"Nice. Yea, be in the shower, and just have a break down automatically" - D.S.
"I used to do that" - E.L.
"You go through it every day. You just gotta live with it and go through day by day. And keep good people around you" - Omar
"I don't feel it's changed me besides the fact I have to get seen for it every now and then" - E.L.
|My mother||My best friend||My boyfriend||The Social Worker|
... I didn't have nobody.
"At first, it's gonna be hard for everybody, but after awhile, you get used to it". - D.S.
"Look at me, you can STILL do whatever you want. It's up to you how you take it. Do you want to live or do you want to die? That is your question right now. And ya know, if you want to live, you just keep doing what you got to do."-K.G.
"I think people feel you can't be yourself with it, just because what they have seen, what they have heard that HIV is one of the leading killers. But, to tell you the truth, HIV is easier to deal with than my diabetes. At least with HIV, you can take care of yourself and use protection". - S.B.
Project STAY staff will keep your info and records private and confidential. They won't tell your parents or your friends. And Project STAY is part of a general health clinic, so no one will know the specific reason you are at the clinic. There are young people there for many things, including broken toes or birth control. Unless you say something, no one knows why you are there or that you are positive.
"The clinic is like a family but it can also be calm and secretive if you want it to be. No one has to know what you here for". -M.M., 20yrs old
Insurance will cover your care. If you don't have insurance, there are other ways to cover the cost of HIV treatment and care. You can come in and talk to the social workers and they will help you.
The social workers can help you here find a place to live. They have helped others find somewhere to go, and helped some of us get our own apartments. You can come in and talk to the social workers to find out about your options. Click here for more information.
You can still be in a sexual relationship with your partner(s) by using condoms and dental dams, keeping your HIV under control (undetectable), and getting checked for STIs regularly to make sure you're negative for those, as STIs can make it easier to give and get HIV.
"A lot of people have questions about having babies. My grandma be like 'oh, now I can't have grandkids' and I be like 'WHAT?? Who told you that?' Cuz I know I could have one, but I do think about that a lot" - Omar, ?? yrs old.
It is possible to have a family and children one day, even if a person is HIV positive. There are ways to make sure that your baby will not be HIV positive, even if you're positive. It's important to work with your doctors to make sure that there are no signs of the virus in your blood.
It's also important to keep yourself as healthy as possible for when you do decide to get pregnant or get your girl pregnant. This includes taking vitamins, exercising, not doing drugs or drinking alcohol, and eating healthy foods¡ all the stuff your grandma been tellin' you forever.
You may be wondering what you should do first. Here's what we suggest:
1) Make an appointment and GO to the appointment. Your doctor and nurse-practitioner will help you stay healthy and fight the infection. Your social worker will help you get all the benefits you need.
2) Find support. Find friends and family who can help you. Surround yourself with good people. There are many people at Project STAY to talk with, including social workers and a psychiatrist who can help you sort things out.
3) Learn about HIV. Try to learn as much as you can about HIV and protecting yourself and others. But be careful, not all information on the internet is correct. If you have doubts or questions, you can always call us. There is also some information here on our site and some links to other trusted websites.