Category: News

Dr. Bill LaRock from SelectHealth to Lead Online Workshop

As part of the 2022 Ending the Epidemic (ETE) Summit, Dr. Bill LaRock from SelectHealth will lead an online workshop about his work with Alliance for Positive Change. The presentation, called “Knocking Down Barriers: How Peers Tackle Health Inequities,” will take place November 29 and will include presentations from Alliance peers.

Dr. LaRock is Clinical Director of SelectHealth’s ETE Program, which looks for SelectHealth members who are living with HIV but are not currently in treatment and helps them get back into treatment and stay healthy.

The ETE Summit is an event that takes place every year and is sponsored by the New York State Department of Health (DOH). This year’s Summit is online and takes place November 29 – December 1, 2022.

SelectHealth ETE Program

The SelectHealth ETE Program, in partnership with Alliance for Positive Change, finds SelectHealth members living with HIV who are not currently in treatment and brings them back to medical care. The program pairs these members with specially trained outreach workers called peers.

Dr. Bill LaRock and his team from SelectHealth meet each week with peers from Alliance for Positive Change to talk about these members’ care needs and how to bring them back into care. Once members are back in care, the Program helps them get to the goals of having an undetectable level of HIV and better overall health.

The ETE Program team helps members in many ways, including advocating for a member’s special health needs. For example, the program recently helped a member get approval for a wheelchair when they learned that without this equipment the member had been unable to leave their home for several months.

Additionally, the ETE Program’s peers, some of whom are living with HIV themselves, work closely with members to give hands-on support. Peers help members make doctor appointments and arrange transportation, fill prescriptions, and may go with them to medical visits. Peers can help explain health information and help members stay in treatment by checking in and making appointments for follow up care. Peers may also connect members with support groups and other services they may need.

The program is paid for by a New York State Ending the Epidemic (ETE) grant. It has been highly successful in bringing members back into care and is now in its seventh year.

Get the Facts on MPV (Monkeypox)

Health care worker wearing blue surgical glove holding a test tube labeled Mokeypox Virus Test.

MPV (Monkeypox) is a virus that’s similar to smallpox. It is rarely fatal but can be very contagious.

Who is most at risk?

Though anyone can get MPV, it’s spreading faster in some groups, including men who have sex with men.

What are the symptoms?

  • Rashes, bumps, or blisters on or around the face, hands, chest, genitals, or feet
  • Fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue

Symptoms usually start within two weeks of exposure, but in some cases, they may not appear for up to 21 days. Symptoms can last for two to four weeks.

How is it spread?

  • Direct contact with infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • Respiratory droplets during prolonged, face-to-face contact
  • Intimate physical contact (kissing, cuddling, or sex)

Protect yourself by:

  • Avoiding skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other MPV symptoms.
  • Getting vaccinated. Vaccines can prevent infection or lessen the symptoms if you get it. The New York State Department of Health is currently working to make more vaccines available. Go to this website for vaccine availability:

If you’re exposed or have symptoms, reach out to your health care provider.

For more information about MPV, call 311.

Additional Resources

6 Questions with SelectHealth About AIDS Walk New York

The SelectHealth Team, their friends and family, and thousands of New Yorkers attended this year’s AIDS Walk in Central Park on May 15th.  For some walkers, like SelectHealth Outreach Representative Chevelle Jones, this was their first-time walking with other proud HIV advocates. Right before this year’s AIDS Walk, we sat down with Chevelle to talk about her decisions to walk this year and what it means to her to be making strides with the SelectHealth team.

Q: Since 1986, tens of thousands of New Yorkers from all walks of life have participated in AIDS Walk. What is motivating you to participate in AIDS Walk for the first time?

CJ: My position on the SelectHealth Outreach Team has given me the opportunity to sit and speak with many individuals living with HIV. Hearing their stories, their battles, fears and hopes has fueled me with the same hope and inspiration. I want to give my time and support for ending the HIV epidemic in any way that I can.

Q: You’re walking as a part of the SelectHealth team. What does it mean to you to be joining your colleagues for this event?

CJ: Joining the SelectHealth Outreach Team for this event makes me proud to be a part of an organization that shows support as a whole for the community. It’s really awesome. Everyone who is going to attend knows the assignment. We are going to bring positivity, support, value and commitment!

Q: Why did you decide to apply to join VNS Health?

CJ: I am a member of the LGBTQ community and when I heard about this role, I knew that I would be able to help the individuals that I would meet. I wanted the opportunity to help educate and guide members of the community in a way that felt easy and relatable. I knew this would be a great position for me.

Q: Now that you are working with VNS Health, what’s the job really like?

CJ: I am a SelectHealth Outreach Representative. I work to build and maintain relationships with community organizations that can help connect the dots between SelectHealth and New Yorkers who could benefit from our services. I’m at clinics, hospitals, LGBTQ+ groups, food pantries and shelters to get connected to people who are of transgender experience, homeless, or living with HIV and help them get enrolled in our SelectHealth special needs plan.

Photo of SelectHealth Outreach representative Chevelle Jones sitting on park bench with colleague during AIDS Walk

Q: How does it feel to be able to connect people with the care they need?

CJ: It feels great to help people get on track to receive the care they need so that they can live longer, healthier, and even more fulfilling lives. I’m willing to go that extra mile, literally! The more members I enroll, the more people who are getting the care they may not have had access to before. It’s truly awesome.

Q: What does it feel like to be walking alongside people who want the same long, healthy, and fulfilling lives for New Yorkers with HIV?

CJ: I feel like I am playing a big part in the fight to end the HIV epidemic. I am thrilled to walk as part of the SelectHealth team with my colleagues and friends – that feels special.  To everyone on my team, let’s get hype, get some rest the night before, and don’t forget to stretch!

World AIDS Day: New York State Department of Health Honors Dr. Jay Dobkin

On World AIDS Day, Wednesday, December 1st, Jay Dobkin, MD, Chief Medical Officer for VNS Health, received a Commissioner’s Special Recognition Award from the New York State Department of Health for his commitment, research, and significant contributions in the field of HIV/AIDS. Every year, this award recognizes individuals who are leaders in promoting improvements in HIV health, LGBT health, substance-user health, youth sexual health, trauma-informed care, and the prevention and treatment of Hepatitis C and STIs. SelectHealth extends our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Dobkin for this well-deserved honor!


Connecting the Transgender Community to Care: “I’m Human, You’re Human”

Medium featured Health Plans from VNS Health President Hany Abdelaal, DO, in a piece that spotlights SelectHealth’s efforts to meet the needs of the transgender community. “Talia Vaughn and Trust Robinson, who are outreach and enrollment coordinators at SelectHealth, a part of VNS Health, where I work, look forward to a time when society does not need an International Transgender Day of Visibility. One March 31 in the future, they hope, people who transition genders will be seen and heard and experienced every day for who they are: people. People with their own talents and challenges, friends in your community, colleagues in your workplace,” the article begins. Read the full story in Medium.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Don’t Let Age Force You Back into the Closet

February 7th was designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and the theme for this year’s observance was Together for Love: Stop HIV Stigma. With this in mind, LGBTQ Program Manager Arthur Fitting, from the not-for-profit VNS Health, sat down with Aundaray Guess, Deputy Director at GRIOT Circle, a community-based, multi-generational organization serving LGBTQ elders of color in the Greater New York area, for a discussion about Aging and HIV/AIDS in the Black Community. Read the full story in Medium.

Aging with HIV/AIDS: Be “Extra Vigilant” About Mental Health

To mark important awareness days such as National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day and World AIDS Day, Arthur Fitting, VNS Health LGBTQ Program and Community Outreach Manager, interviewed key experts on the wide-ranging topic of aging with HIV/AIDS. We will be looking at what people with HIV, partners, caregivers, communities and the health care industry can do to help expand knowledge, reduce HIV stigma, and promote healthy aging. The first dialogue in the series, with Stephen E. Karpiak, PhD, Director of GMHC’s National Resource Center on HIV & Aging can be found here. Today’s conversation is with Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD, senior research scientist at Hunter College’s Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging.

Read the full story in Medium.

Aging with HIV/AIDS: You Can Modify the Aging Arc

To mark National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day on September 18, Arthur Fitting, LGBT Program Director at VNS Health, is interviewing key experts on this wide-ranging topic, looking at what people with HIV, partners, caregivers, communities and the health care industry can do to help expand knowledge, reduce HIV stigma, and promote healthy aging. Today’s conversation is with Stephen E. Karpiak, PhD, lead HIV and Aging researcher with Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Director of the National Resource Center on HIV & Aging.

Read the full story in Medium.