PLATTSBURGH — With the new year came a new identity for one regional health organization.
On Jan. 1, the entity formerly known as the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York officially changed its name to Alliance for Positive Health.
In addition to its Plattsburgh facility, the agency comprises office locations in Albany, Hudson, Hudson Falls and Schenectady and offers its core services in the 15 counties of northeastern New York.
“We have been talking about a name change for quite some time, and part of the reason is that AIDS still carries some stigma with it," said the group's Plattsburgh Regional Director Diana Aguglia.
There was concern, she noted, that the previous title might have deterred people from turning to the organization for assistance out of fear of what others might assume about them.
“We want people to feel comfortable seeking services from us in a non-stigmatized manner," Aguglia said.
With that in mind, a special committee was formed and charged with developing a more fitting title for the agency.
Input on the matter was also sought from the organization's board members, clients and stakeholders, according to Aguglia.
Along with shedding the stigma, she noted, the group sought a name that better reflects the scope of the agency's offerings.
While it continues to provide comprehensive services to people infected with HIV and AIDS, the nonprofit organization also provides care management for people with chronic illnesses.
For example, Aguglia said, the group has been assisting individuals coping with diabetes, substance abuse, hypertension, heart disease and obesity for the past two years.
The agency's employees have become quite knowledgeable about treating such conditions, according to the regional director, as doing so requires the same skills needed to manage HIV and AIDS.
Additionally, she noted, many people who are HIV-positive live with other chronic illnesses, as well.
“As far as services are concerned, we're still providing the same services that we have been for years," Aguglia said.
The new name, however, may make the organization eligible for additional funding opportunities.
"It’s very exciting," Aguglia said.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org