World AIDS Day 2017 Brings New Hope

December 1, 2017

crowd releasing balloons commemorating World AIDS Day

Red balloons floated across the Syracuse skyline in honor of World AIDS Day on December 1st, promoting awareness as well as paying tribute to those who have died.

Brooker Terry, peer support specialist at Liberty Resources, planned the event to commemorate the victims who have lost their lives to the disease. Additionally, the event was organized to educate community health care providers, human services professionals, and other peer advocates on the many programs Liberty Resources provides to support individuals in the Syracuse area living with HIV/AIDS.

Liberty Resources first got involved in HIV/AIDS services in the early 1990s, establishing DePalmer House transitional housing which provides an environment and level of care that enables residents to attain and maintain safe, affordable permanent housing of their choice. Liberty Resources CEO Carl Coyle spoke of the history of Liberty Resources stepping up to serve the community affected with HIV/AIDS. “Today, the face of AIDS has changed quite a bit,” stated Coyle. “it is now co-involved with the opioid crisis and drug abuse and impacts a wider swath of individuals.”

Liberty Resources provides residential programs for individuals living with HIV and AIDS including transitional housing, permanent housing for families, and independent housing, as well as peer support services and all case management services through the housing program. Other Liberty Resources programs that showcased their services at the event included: Integrated Health (primary care and behavioral health), Care Coordination, Foster Care/Kinship Family Services, and Mobile Crisis Team.

“The landscape in terms of HIV/AIDS has changed significantly over the years.” Liberty Resources Behavioral Health Divisional Director Paula Cerio continued, “While the mortality rate has gone down, we’re still seeing increased rates of infection—younger individuals and older individuals—there is still an increasing need for support services.”

The message at the event was positive and hopeful. Terry, who was diagnosed HIV positive in 1999, stated that he takes medication for the disease, but otherwise continues to live a normal life. “It’s important for people living with it to understand they can still live and live successfully.” While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, there is progress being made and the most important progress is education and awareness about HIV/AIDS. Terry’s mission as a peer support specialist is to support those living with HIV while educating others on the importance of getting tested.