• Running 1Celebrate Spain’s Running of the Bulls at the “Toros y Tapas,” the summer’s next great “fun-raiser” by The Octopus Club, benefiting the Paul Kirby emergency fund at AIDS Services of Austin.

    The event will be held Saturday, July 11 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the home of Michael Rodriguez and Stephen Watkins, 4000 Hyridge Drive, Austin, Texas 78759.

    Attendees can casually relax poolside with tapas and fine wine while we live-stream the scene of handsome Spanish men fleeing for their lives from a horde of furious bulls. The soundtrack will be the best dance music and, of course, some Spanish ballads.

    Suggested contributions at the door are $25, $50, $100 or more. Like at every Octopus Club event, every penny of your contribution provides assistance to someone in Central Texas living with the challenges of HIV/AIDS.

    Octopus_Club_Logo_2011The Octopus Club is a grassroots all-volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund at ASA through annual events and parties. Since its founding in 1989, the Octopus Club has raised more than $2.1 million for the fund, assisting more than 800 ASA clients.

    The Paul Kirby Emergency Fund provides emergency financial assistance to individuals infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS. These funds are distributed to individuals for basic living needs on a case-by-case basis. Services paid for by the fund include assistance with emergency food, housing and utilities, medical care, medication, and transportation. When they have nowhere else to turn, the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund is a helping hand of last resort.

    For more information on The Octopus Club and the emergency fund, visit

    RSVP for Toros y Tapas on Facebook at

    Special thanks to our Toros y Taps hosts: Michael Rodriguez, Stephen Watkins, Mauricio Carranza, Charley Schumate, Jay Billig, Jeffrey Jungbauer, Billy Brown, Lew Aldridge, Jim Lommori, Candis Guidry, Sue Campion, Matthew Rogovein, Kathy Simon, Ahmed Fathalla, Bob Dailey, and Doug Plummer.

  • National testing day 2015Stop by to know your status for National Testing Day! ASA’s awesome testers will be administering free tests at the Walgreens on 1920 E. Riverside Drive on the following dates:

    Thursday, June 25, 3-7 PM
    Friday, June 26, 3-7 PM
    Saturday, June 27, 10-2 PM

    Testing is also available at our regular weekly test sites. You can find the testing schedule here.

    Need more incentives to get tested for HIV? Look no further. ASA proudly presents our top 10 reasons to get tested:

    1. Leave mystery for books and movies. You owe it to yourself, and your potential partners to know your status.
    2. It’s quick and easy. Results are available within 30 minutes.
    3. No big needle needed. A few drops of blood are all it takes.
    4. No name? No problem. Anonymous testing is available.
    5. Nearly 1 out 7 people living with HIV are unaware of their status. Don’t be an outsider. Remember, knowledge is power.
    6. If you test positive, follow-up arrangements can be made on site. The sooner treatment begins, the healthier your life will be.
    7. It’s free!
    8. Last year, ASA provided more than 1,600 tests. Don’t worry, we are total pros at this.
    9. HIV does not discriminate. Don’t be scared of the test, let it be a conversation starter for you and your partner.
    10. Stopping the spread of HIV is a community effort. Do your part, get tested today! 

    Free your mind. Know your status.




  • National testing day 2015The theme of National HIV Testing Day (June 27th) touches upon the most important thing to know about HIV: you have options. Knowing your status gives you the ability to plan and stay healthy, whether it’s by learning more about prevention strategies, or if need be, treatment options.

    Nearly 14% of people living with HIV are unaware of their status, but you don’t have to be one of them. HIV testing is fast and easy. Testing is done by collecting a blood droplet sample through a finger stick. Results are available within 30 minutes. Many organizations, including ASA, administer tests for free.

    Testing frequency is dependent on the type of activities you participate in. Those at high risk, including people who have unprotected sex or share injection drug equipment with another person, should get tested as soon as possible. Getting tested at least once a year is recommended if you continue to participate in these types of activities. Sexually active gay and bisexual men should get tested every 3 to 6 months, since they are at the highest risk of transmission. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that all pregnant women get tested during their first and third trimester.

    TestingGetting tested for HIV is not only a great way to be a responsible sexual partner, but also a great way to learn more about prevention strategies and make informed decisions. Information about the importance of using condoms and the potential benefits of taking PrEP or PEP are available at our testing locations.

    If you want to learn more about ASA’s testing program, including testing times and locations, call 512-458-TEST (8378) or click here.

    20140626_112956ASA’s awesome testers will be celebrating National HIV Testing Day by providing free HIV and syphilis testing, safer-sex supplies, sexual health information, and more at the Walgreens on 1920 E. Riverside Drive on the following dates:

    Thursday, June 25, 3-7 PM
    Friday, June 26, 3-7 PM
    Saturday, June 27, 10-2 PM

    Free your mind. Know your status.

  • HIV pillsWhen it comes to HIV treatments, many people put them off until they start feeling the effects of the disease. Infrequent testing, lack of insurance, and the stigma that surrounds this issue are partly to blame. It’s also very easy to be uninformed about HIV treatments. A lot of people think it’s just a pill a day and nothing more. Though it sounds easy, many don’t realize the need to get tested and seek help early. The stigma of a positive diagnosis combined with the mentality “it can’t happen to me” is a recipe for disaster.

    Receiving HIV treatment as early as possible is life-saving. It’s that simple. And now we’ve got the studies to show it.

    In fact, the early use of HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) has been shown to prevent the onset of symptoms, slow down the progression of HIV to AIDS, and increase survival rates. Early and uninterrupted treatment has also been linked to longer life expectancy, a healthier immune system, and a lower possibility of passing on HIV. The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can get on HAART.

    Testing DropThe prick of a finger, some blood droplets, and 30 minutes is all it takes to get tested—fast and easy. But for many, the hard part is admitting how essential it is to be tested. A lot of people let fear of social rejection prevent them from knowing their HIV status. What they don’t know is that a positive test doesn’t mean you should lose hope.

    Often, seeking HIV treatment can be a daunting task, marked by scarce health resources, mounting medical bills, and feelings of isolation. But, it doesn’t have to be. That’s why agencies like AIDS Services of Austin know how essential early treatment is and provide help every step of the way. We offer free weekly testing (you can find our locations here). We help our clients get prescriptions and health insurance to pay for the medications through our case management program. Our food bank is set up to help clients get proper nutrition so that their medications are absorbed properly. We even help with housing and offer emergency financial assistance.

    If you are living with HIV, your health should be your main priority. Our goal is to help you focus on your health as much as you can and let you know you’re not alone. If you need us, we will be there to help you be the healthiest you possible!

    Click here to learn more about our programs.

  • All humans judge others and themselves, and compare their own experiences to others constantly. It’s human nature. This can cause a lot of anxiety, negative thoughts, self-doubt and low self-esteem. However, there is a way to think purely on the present, and help us let go of the past, or the stress of thinking about the unpredictable future—practicing mindfulness.

    mindfulnessThink of yourself doing something simple—something that you wouldn’t regularly think twice about, like eating an apple. You’re probably aware that you’re eating an apple, but not particularly paying attention to how it smells, what it sounds like to take a bite, or how it feels to hold it in your hand. We’re conditioned to think of multiple things at one time and to not focus solely on one task. Our attention is diverted elsewhere.

    Mindfulness is being aware of your body, your thoughts and the environment that surrounds you while also accepting these feelings and thoughts without judging them. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can bring a wide array of benefits. PATH Coordinator, Darren McCall tells us why he tries to mediate almost every day. “In my opinion, the biggest benefit is greater psychological flexibility. You can have more parts of your brain that are engaged and help you manage emotional responses. You are essentially training your brain and it will give you flexibility on how to approach life. ”

    Meditation and mindfulness can foster compassion, enhance relationships, reduce anxiety, improve memory and attention skills, fight depression and stress and is, in general, good for our minds.

    “People get discouraged when their mind won’t settle. They’ll think that it’s not working for them or they’re doing it wrong,” says Darren. “If you begin and stop three times, just stop. It’s about feeling impulsive and giving yourself permission.” A key part of mindfulness and meditation is that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel or think.

    Here are a few tips and tricks to practicing mindfulness:

    1. Pay attention, close attention, to yourself and your surroundings, especially your breath
    2. Focus your attention and engage your senses. Close your eyes, or leave them open looking at something. Take time to smell, taste, listen, and touch.
    3. Do this intentionally – set a purpose for why you’re choosing to pay attention to this certain thought or feeling.
    4. Let go of any thoughts of the past or future and think in the present. Relax any tension that you might be holding in your body.
    5. Don’t compare, judge, or be critical of yourself.

    “There’s a lot of isolation we feel, and we feel anxious about feeling anxious,” Darren says. “Your life improves because you have more options. You will feel more optimistic and hopeful, and take action more and learn when it’s appropriate to take those actions.” Through these simple practices, we can leave the stressful thoughts behind and lead a more stress-free life.

    Discover more on mindfulness and find other ways to meditate, and practice breathing here.

    Find out how mindful you are with this quiz:

  • HIV virusImagine a world without HIV, one where wasting syndrome no longer exists, where the stigma that surrounds those infected by the disease is replaced by respect for who they are as a person. While this scenario is not yet a reality, it is something that is slowly solidifying thanks to the many preventative efforts available for at-risk populations. The most important of these efforts—decreasing the viral load of HIV-positive individuals to prevent them from passing it on to others—is the hardest to manage because it comes so late in the chain of HIV treatment. Luckily, we have HAART.

    Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, or HAART, is a customizable combination of medications which represents the most significant development in the fight against the HIV virus since the introduction of AZT in 1987. HAART has the ability to stabilize the health of an HIV-infected individual by preventing the replication of the virus. However, what many people overlook is the even greater impact HAART can have on the community by preventing people living with HIV from passing on the disease.

    HIV pillsA recent study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic infections revealed that individuals who take HAART regularly have little chance of passing on the virus to their partners. In total, close to 800 heterosexual and homosexual couples whose HIV status differs took part in the two year study. The results were extremely promising.

    Researchers concluded that ”the greatest-possible risk of transmission from a partner was 0.45% per year and from anal sex was 1% a year.” More importantly, it was confirmed that individuals with an undetectable viral load have virtually 0% chance of transmitting HIV. This is big news, confirming that treatment as prevention does work! The final results from the study will be published in 2017.

    HAART is one of the most important suppressing measures available to those living with HIV. In fact, it is one of the prevention strategies outlined in the President’s National HIV strategy for the United States. Frequent testing and the use of condoms are great ways to stop the disease from spreading, but they can only do so much. Getting those who are already living with HIV into treatment as soon as possible is the best way to stop the spread of HIV.