Month: December 2013

Protect yourself from the flu this winter!

flu symptoms

Effects of the influenza virus on various systems of the body.
Photo Credit : Wikimedia Commons

Influenza (commonly known as the flu) is a serious, contagious viral infection that causes symptoms such as chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort. The most common ways of transmission of the virus are through aerosols (coughing, sneezing), or through contaminated surfaces. Since the virus can be inactivated by soap, frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent the flu. If you have unfortunately contracted the virus, stay home so as not to spread the virus to others.

It is important to remember that the flu is not just a bad cold – it can be a threatening condition with grave consequences. Vaccination for the flu is recommended for anyone over the age of 6 months. High-risk populations (children, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses and health care workers) should get vaccinated every year.

To find out where to get your flu shot this season, visit:

For more information about the flu and influenza vaccinations, visit

AMPHS Collaborates with Sunset Park Agencies for Referrals and Education Services

We are excited to announce that AMPHS is partnering with Turning Point and Atlas DIY to better serve communities in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

turning point logoTurning Point provides community members holistic support through education, health and social services programs. Its programs include:

  • Outreach and Testing Services
  • Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health Services
  • Scattered Site Housing
  • Transitional Housing
  • Educational and Vocational Services

A hugely successful endeavor of Turning Point is its Shower Project, where individuals in transitional housing are provided with shower and a change of undergarments.

AMPHS will be working to complement Turning Point’s services through free health screenings and social assistance referrals for individuals with health and healthcare concerns. Additionally, it will be working closely with the Shower Project to offer regular screenings to community members lacking health insurance and healthcare.

atlas diyAtlas DIY is an organization that empowers undocumented youth by providing them with education, and a sense of community. Some of its programs are:

  • Legal help for Immigration issues
  • Career club
  • Assistance with college applications
  • Mentorship sessions

By partnering Atlas DIY, AMPHS expects to reach out to a larger population of undocumented immigrant families and provide them with the necessary resources to stay healthy while pursing their American Dream.

To learn more about Turning Point and Atlas DIY, visit

AMPHS Works with Amida Care for December 2013 HIV/AIDS Awareness Month Screening

In recognition of December 2013 HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, AMPHS partnered with AmidaCare to provide health care access information to individuals who have been tested as HIV-positive.

amidacareAs a Medicaid health plan, Amida Care provides services to individuals with HIV/AIDS living in Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan, with sites in Downstate SUNY and Brownville, NY.  By working with a special team of people such as social workers, health navigators, behavioral health specialists and a designated medical home, Amida Care is committed to serving people with chronic health conditions.

Individuals who participate in the plan do not have any out-of-pocket costs for treatment and care, and are given a $40 stipend per month for pursuing continuous follow-up care with their physicians. They will first be invited to a new members orientation and moving forward, are also invited to participate in regular town hall meetings and live-your-life events.

Unfortunately, undocumented individuals are not covered through this program, but can refer to CAMBA for additional resources and treatment information.

Learn more about Amida Care and its programs by visiting

December is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month – Knowledge is the best way to prevent HIV/AIDS, so read for more information!

AIDS or Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is caused by a virus called HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus). AIDS is associated with a progressive failure of the immune system which allows life-threatening infections and cancer to invade the body.

How does AIDS spread?

HIV infection can occur by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk. Hence, bodily fluids are the main way by which HIV infection can spread. This is because the HIV virus can be present as both free virus particles as well as virus within cells.

Ways to diagnose HIV/AIDS

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that HIV screening should be part of one’s medical check-up, just to make sure you are healthy. Meanwhile, individuals that are at risk are advised to get tested for HIV/AIDS infection once a year; pregnant women are advised to get tested for HIV/AIDS during the course of each pregnancy.

The following are considered ‘at risk’ populations:

  • Individuals who share needles/syringes or other equipment for injecting drugs
  • Individuals with a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Individuals who have had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with multiple partners
  • Individuals who have had unprotected sex with a partner who did not know their own HIV status.

Testing for HIV/AIDS infection is relatively easy, and can be done using mouth swab, urine or blood sample. The virus (HIV) is called an antigen, and in order to fight it, the body produces antibodies against the antigen. Hence, HIV/AIDS testing could entail detection of the antibody or of the antigen.

Antibody tests


Swab test for HIV
Photo credit : wikimedia commons

These tests use blood, oral fluid or urine to detect antibodies to HIV. The results can be obtained anywhere from 10-20 minutes to two weeks. If the antibody test turns up positive, another test is needed to confirm the results. This test is called the Western blot test and takes up to two weeks to get a confirmed result.

Antigen tests

These tests require a blood sample, and can detect HIV infection earlier – from 1 to 3 weeks after infection with HIV. This test is done by a technique known as the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Preventing HIV/AIDS

The most effective way of preventing HIV/AIDS is to not engage in risky behavior. This includes the following:

  • Limiting the number of partners and avoiding sex with people whose sexual history is unknown.
  • Using condoms properly from start to finish when having sex.
  • Refraining from sharing needles with others.
  • Using clean needles
  • Purchasing new, sterile needles from pharmacies
  • (For pregnant women to decrease the risk of passing HIV to their unborn child) receiving appropriate medical care and taking prescribed medications.

Treating HIV/AIDS

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS include the occurrence of infections that are not observed in normal individuals. These infections can be pulmonary, gastrointestinal or neurological. Hence, the treatment of HIV/AIDS consists of keeping these infections at bay. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. The frontline of treatment consists of drugs called antiretroviral therapy (ART) – this consists of a combination of drugs that limit the HIV infection.

HIV medication consists of a variety of ARTs – these drugs attack the virus at a different stage in its life cycle, so it is important to adhere to the regimen and take all prescribed drugs religiously. One problem in treatment of HIV/AIDS is that of drug resistance – this happens when the virus replicates and makes copies of itself that do not respond to the drug the same way they used to. Following the 3-drug regimen is one way to stop drug resistance from taking place.

In addition, one should eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest and exercise and refrain from alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, and get regular health check-ups.


AMPHS clinical volunteers at past screening.

AMPHS clinical volunteers at past screening.

Over the last three years, AMPHS has mobilized forces to provide the Brooklyn community with HIV/AIDS testing during its monthly health events, partnering with organizations such as Interfaith Medical Center, Turning Point Outreach Center, and Latino Commission on AIDS. Because December is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, annual HIV/AIDS testing and education services during its in-house screenings during the month of December. This year, AMPHS will be offering in-house screenings on Saturday, December 14th between 11am and 5pm. Appointments are preferred; walk-ins are welcome. To make an appointment, please call (212) 256-9036.

Since there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, the most effective way to prevent infection and spread of HIV/AIDS is education. For more information about HIV/AIDS, visit: