Blog

Buy Your Tix Now! ADRLF’s 2015 Karaoke Nights Benefit on Feb 12th!

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Buy Your Tix Now! ADRLF’s 2015 Karaoke Nights Benefit: Valentine’s Day Edition, Feb 12th!

Another year, another chance to advocate for liver health! Join the Board of the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation (ADRLF) — in partnership with the William F. Ryan Community Health Network — at its second-ever KARAOKE NIGHTS, a benefit to help ADRLF raise awareness about viral hepatitis and liver cancer and provide free hepatitis screenings.

Buy a song and wing it, or step up the bid and bet someone else to sing it! Hosted by Carson Kressley.

WHERE: William F. Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Community Health Center, 645 10th Avenue (at 45th Street)WHEN: Thursday, February 12, 2015. 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (doors open at 7)

SERVING UP: Light Hors D’Oeuvres, Bar, Music, Silent Auction, and More! Attire is festive — costumes and props encouraged!

COST: $75 per ticket. To purchase tickets, visit www.aldrodriguezliverfoundation.com and click on the “SHOP ADRLF” tab.

HOST COMMITTEE:  Norbert Leo Butz; Chuck Cooper; Dr. André De Shields; Michael Greif; Dee Hoty; Amber Iman; Dr. Lillias White; and Josh Young.

adrlf

ADRLF, Ryan Center & LESHRC team up for free hepatitis testing, vaccination and awareness

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
Indeed, 2014 was a successful year in following through on its mission, in providing free hepatitis screenings, collaborating with established and new health partners, expanding community outreach, and promoting liver-health awareness for the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation.
In partnership with the William F. Ryan Community Health Network and the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center (LESHRC), ADRLF focused its energies on conducting free screenings and related health services, alongside co-presenting an educational seminar on November 17th to an at-risk community. Lively and well-attended, the day was a great first-time collaboration for all three organizations to combine their efforts at once.
ADRLF display at the free hepatitis screening event organized with the Ryan Center and LESHRC.

ADRLF display at the free hepatitis screening event organized with the Ryan Center and LESHRC. (Photo credit: Monica Simoes)

The Ryan Network Mobile Health Care Unit, fully-equipped with a medical testing set-up and trained nursing practitioners, was stationed at the LESHRC in downtown Manhattan, and gave free rapid Hepatitis C tests and hepatitis vaccines. The patients who got tested received their results on the same day.Following the screenings, Jason Villareal, a nurse practitioner from the Ryan Center gave a talk on the basics of hepatitis: its causes, forms of transmission, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. The event aimed to promote increased hepatitis awareness, especially to vulnerable populations such as those of the “baby boomer” generation (born between 1945 –1965) and those who are uninsured. The free screenings were also geared to help substance users who are of higher risk to be infected with hepatitis C. ADRLF’s Board of Director members, Lisa Collins, Carson Kressley, Crayton Robey, and Dr. Carlos Ortiz attended the event, and presented LESHRC with a donation to support their medical services and future health awareness initiatives, particularly around Hepatitis.
ADRLF's Board Members,  Lisa Collins, Carson Kressley, Dr. Carlos Ortiz and Crayton Robey at the event.

ADRLF’s Board Members, Lisa Collins, Carson Kressley, Dr. Carlos Ortiz and Crayton Robey at the event. (Photo credit: Monica Simoes)

 

The power of collaboration: ADRLF, Ryan Center and LESHRC, side by side to promote liver health awareness.

The power of collaboration: ADRLF, Ryan Center and LESHRC, side by side to promote liver health awareness. (Photo credit: Monica Simoes)

With its new Lower East Side partnership, in concert with the Ryan Center, ADRLF looks forward to co-creating future events that will continue to promote liver wellness through various on-the-ground strategies.

How to celebrate a liver-loving holiday

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Christmas holiday background with blank chalkboardIt’s that time of the year again when the halls are decked with brightly lit Christmas wreaths, menorahs, Kwanzaa decorations and Holiday parties underway! But much as we all enjoy the frenzy, it cannot be denied that the holiday season can stress out our body – and liver – as well.  So how can we celebrate a liver-friendly holiday? ADRLF offers some merry suggestions.

Juggling with holiday shopping (and holiday returns)pressure? Be calm, be bright. Let your heart be light.

Squeezing through large crowds and waiting in long lines can take the fun out of shopping. Add to that the pressure of giving your parents, your partner, and your friends the perfect gift, writing up the perfect cards, and decorating your surroundings after a seasonal house cleaning – and it’s you vs. the holiday! Studies have shown that mental and physical stress has adverse effects on the body, causing heart diseases, liver dysfunction and reduced immunity to illness. For people with liver disease, stress aggravates liver inflammation, and further disrupting proper liver function.

Can’t escape the fatty, sugar-filled holiday feasts? This year, save your liver from tears – eat smart.

Holiday gatherings offer a wide selection of tasty treats including the traditional glazed ham with creamy mashed potatoes, lasagnas, gravies, assorted pies, latkes, fruitcake, eggnog — and cookies, cookies, and more cookies. These foods are filled with sugar, fat, and cholesterol that are harmful to the liver. Choose healthier alternatives such as lean meat; broiled foods over fried ones; steamed green vegetables and skip the butter; and dark chocolate for dessert. Additionally, strengthen your liver with anti-oxidant rich supplements like fruits, milk thistle and tea.

Tempted by alcohol beverages all around? ‘Tis the season to be jolly – drink moderately.

Traditional holiday drinks like eggnog are typically mixed with liquor containing high alcohol content. Socializing during the holidays almost always means getting a round or two of alcoholic drinks — so make sure to keep a tab on your alcohol intake. For those with liver problems, swap alcoholic drinks with safer choices like green tea, which will actually help your liver breakdown toxins from that heavy holiday meal.

Ringing-in ‘all-nighter’ holiday parties? Make sure to get enough sleep.

The stress from gift shopping, organizing parties, fulfilling deadlines before the holiday break, and cooking for the family can affect the quality and amount of sleep we get. This is definitely a significant problem for people with liver disease as they are already prone to sleeping difficulties and insomnia. Manage physical and psychological fatigue by getting enough refreshing sleep this holiday season. You will not only be caring for your liver, but you will surely have the energy to enjoy the holiday’s festivities. So give yourself the gift of sleep!

FELICIDADES this holiday season to you and yours!

ADRLF and the Ryan Center Team-up for FREE HEPATITIS SCREENINGS & VACCINATIONS on Monday November 17th in downtown Manhattan with the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

ADRLF 11 2014The Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation is re-teaming with the William F. Ryan Center to offer FREE Hepatitis testing and vaccinations in the Lower East Side with the Ryan Center’s fully equipped mobile outreach van. Specifically, on offer will be Hep B vaccines, Hep C Testing, and a host of other medical services, including: the Flu shot, HIV testing, and more. ADRLF and the Ryan Center are proud to be partnering with the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, a “culturally diverse, community based, non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, HCV and other drug related harm” brought on through needle use within the community. Another partner, working alongside ADRLF and the Ryan Center will be the Lower East Side Literacy Zone, an organization, funded by the New York State Education Department — which works with the Borough of Manhattan Community College — that is committed to “provide quality adult literacy and responsive social and educational services to low-income families living on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown.” An educational presentation about Hepatitis will be made, and snacks will be available.

Through education and medical servicing offerings through our partners, Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation’s work shines a light on at-risk communities where lifestyle, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, tattoo usage, and economics, among other factors, impact viral hepatitis transmission rates, awareness and self-care.

Screenings will be held this Monday, November 17th, 11am to 2pm, from the medical outreach van, which will be stationed at 25 Allen Street in downtown Manhattan. Co-Founding ADRLF Board Member and Emmy-winning television star, Carson Kressley, alongside his fellow Founding Board Members will be in attendance.

Trick or Treat! Liver care for the sweet tooth

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

With Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, it’s difficult not to get swept up into the holiday spirit without enjoying our favorite sweets and deserts. And sure, we’ve heard about the risks of diabetes, obesity and tooth decay from indulging in sugary treats. But do we also understand how these treats affect our liver? Here’s a short and sweet breakdown.

Sugar affects liver health so choose wisely when enjoying those treats.

Sugar affects liver health so choose wisely when enjoying those treats.

Quick liver function recap

The liver is the body’s main organ that processes food and drink intake, breaking it all down into simpler forms of vitamins, minerals and substances such as glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that goes into the bloodstream and the cells, serving as a source of energy. However, our body only needs a certain amount of daily glucose, and the excess gets stored in the liver.

Dangers of excess sugar

While glucose works as a fundamental “fuel” of the body, having too much can add unnecessary stress to the liver.  Liver diseases typically start as an inflammation. When not immediately treated, the inflammation leaves scarring that causes permanent liver damage. Experts have found that excessive sugar consumption and poor glucose regulation can spur liver inflammation. With a scarred liver, blood and other minerals cannot flow freely into the liver tissues, thus causing functional problems.

Taming a sweet tooth

Moderation is key when it comes to managing a sweet tooth – especially throughout this festive season. There are several ways to enjoy healthy and tasty treats without compromising liver health. Here are some suggestions:

Choose healthy treats. Dealing with sweet cravings can be challenging, so make sure to remember that you actually have healthy alternative options. Avoid food with added and refined sugar. Consider fruits, dark chocolate, frozen yogurt and other tasty foods with lower glycemic index as other options; and make sure to have some of these snacks at close range in case that craving kicks in.

Watch out for sugar alternatives. Products labeled as “sugar-free” may contain sweeteners that could pose different dangers. High fructose corn syrup, for example, is a commonly used sweetener often found in excess in sodas, pastry and candies, that has been linked to obesity and diabetes. Take a few seconds to check nutrition labels and ingredients for the type and amount of sugar content — and choose wisely.

Exercise. Light to moderate exercise can be enough to stimulate the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in your body that may actually reduce sugar cravings. Go for a brisk walk, a light jog, or some basic yoga to boost dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters to help curb your jones for a sugar rush.

Join a support group. Some people binge in unhealthy doses of sweets when they’re anxious, depressed or stressed. Recognize the tricky connection between your mood and your cravings, and don’t be scared to seek help in shifting this dynamic for the better. There are free support groups and exciting online programs that can help you develop a healthy diet and lifestyle. Click here to learn more.

And remember, as you stock-up on goodies for eager trick-or-treaters this­­­ Halloween, keep repeating the holiday season’s motto: “It’s better to give than to receive!”

Treat Your Hepatitis C: Options for the uninsured and underinsured

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

aaOver 150 million people are affected with hepatitis C worldwide, with more succumbing to this disease than HIV in a given year. Thus a wave of enthusiasm ignited when a promising new drug was announced last year. However, at a costly and contested price per pill, what does this treatment really mean to hepatitis C patients who are uninsured or underinsured?

In the last few years, hepatitis C patients have been treated with an injectable combination of interferon and ribavirin given in a course of up to 48 weeks. This treatment, however, is often accompanied by challenging side effects and is only 50 percent effective.

In December 2013, the FDA approved a new hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, which promised minimal side effects and a cure rate of up to 96 percent when combined with ribavirin, or peginterferon alfa and ribavirin. This new treatment arrives in the form of a pill to be taken on a 12-week course. The catch? Each pill is priced at $1,000; in translation, the total treatment course per patient would cost around $84,000.

By comparison — according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website — more traditional 48-week treatment costs around $15,000 to $20,000 per patient. Therefore in translation, at its current pricing, Sovaldi would pose greater than a three hundred percent increase for treatment costs, per person.

Health insurance programs like Medicaid have expressed issues with being hit hard by the drug’s hefty pricing, although the cure rate is more than impressive. In the U.S. alone, around 3.2 million people have hepatitis C; therefore treatment costs using Sovaldi would prove to be exponential. Various states such as Illinois have raised concerns about their treatment programs for their prison population with hepatitis C. And as states are obliged to provide treatment for affected inmates, the burden of the cost is anticipated to land on tax payers.

The debate over the high drug cost continues as health care providers consider other disaffected populations who are greatly affected by hepatitis C but do not have access to treatment, such as: the uninsured, various homeless populations, and patients from developing countries.

To address this cost issue, groups like Fair Pricing Coalition (FPC) have rallied against this high drug pricing; while helping to pave the way for alternate assistance such as: the Support Path Patient Assistance Program and Sovaldi Co-pay Coupon Program; both made accessible for eligible patients with limited or no insurance.

Thus, moving on from the price debate, it is important that the public is informed of available assistance programs and financing options — especially, in the case of those who urgently need the treatment.

Know more about your hepatitis C treatment options here or call 1-855-7MyPath (1-855-769-7284)

Check out other US-based hepatitis C patient access programs here

Learn about other hepatitis B or C Patient Assistance and Co-pay programs, click here

Let’s Celebrate Liver Awareness Month this October!

Monday, September 29th, 2014

There is another kind of ‘Octoberfest’ being celebrated each year, apart from the widely held German tradition. This celebration embraces liver health in recognition of its vital role in our general well-being — October is Liver Awareness Month.

Why celebrate liver awareness at all?

Passing along an important reminder. Photo Credit: American Liver Foundation.

Passing along an important reminder. Photo Credit: American Liver Foundation.

As the largest gland in the body, the liver is responsible for fundamental functions from processing the nutrients from our food and liquid intake, to detoxifying toxins and regulating our blood composition.

As basic as these liver functions are, it is alarming that many of our daily activities pose great threats to the liver. Poor diet, drinking alcohol, and taking too much or incorrect medication cause liver damage that may lead to more serious conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. To make matters worse, contagious liver-damaging diseases such as hepatitis B affect many people who are unaware of their infection.

What happens when the liver doesn’t work right?

Liver damage causes health problems that could lead to serious diseases, including cancer.  At its early stage, liver damage could cause itchy skin, digestive and abdominal changes, and general weakness of the body, disrupting our daily routines. Liver dysfunction due to hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, or alcoholic liver disease have more severe and deadly impact.

So this October, let’s feast on liver-loving activities to promote proper diet, responsible lifestyle, and a healthy liver. ADRLF invites you to engage with our mission and take part in these exciting events along with your family and friends!

Join liver health organizations near you – click here

Discover Liver Awareness Month activities near you – click here

Sign-up for a “Liver Walk” near you – click here

Inform loved ones on how to take care of their liver with these short clips

Check your liver health with a quick test here

Donate blood during Liver Awareness Month with Red Cross here

FLASHBACK to WORLD HEPATITIS MONTH as ADRLF continued the fight against Hepatitis!

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

As Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off last week, the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation flashes back to share some of the organization’s slate of activities over the recent seasons that included two Latino-focused healthcare initiatives in the forefront of its year-round commitment to the battle against hepatitis.

Photo Credit: Monica Simoes

Photo Credit: Monica Simoes

ADRLF joined fellow New York City leaders and other Health Organizations at the Annual NYC Viral Hepatitis Awareness Press Conference at City Hall that took place on May 15th to recognize National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day. During his speech, Treasurer and Founding Board Member, Dr. Carlos Ortiz stressed the fact that viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer in the US; and he emphasized, by not hesitating to screen and vaccinate, one can prevent the disease.  The sprinkling rain did not damper spirits during the press conference; instead, it reinforced the collectives’ commitment of the life-saving message!

Photo Credit: Monica Simoes

Photo Credit: Monica Simoes

When World Hepatitis Testing Day arrived on May 19th, the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation sprang into action to focus some of its attention on Latino youth, and its encircling community. ADRLF joined forces with committed partner, The William F. Ryan Community Health Network to hold a special event in pursuit of its mission to screen, vaccinate and educate underserved communities about Hepatitis B, as well as ‘Hepatitis A’ and ‘C’. The partners teamed up to provide free screenings and test results, as well as an informational forum at Boricua College in the Bronx.

For ADRLF and the Ryan Community Health Network, the impressive and forward-thinking Boricua College was a perfect fit. Founded in 1974 by Dr. Victor G. Alicea and a group of educational activists, Boricua College is the “first private four-year bilingual institution of higher education learning on the United States mainland developed by Puerto Ricans and dedicated to educating Latinos.” It still employs a largely bilingual faculty that caters to adult and working students and prides itself in non-traditional educational enrichment. With campuses now in three boroughs, President Alicea presides over the dynamic college that remains proud of its commitment to community service within the context of Latino-focused higher learning initiatives and outreach.

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

While testing was simultaneously happening in a private designated room, Clinician Geraldine Joseph (R-PAC, The Ryan Center), led an informative hepatitis awareness workshop, outlining key points: from populations at risk, to risky activities to preventative measures. There was a lively interactive Q&A afterwards, where students and staff raised concerns about the serious virus, including: risk factors, the probability of infection and and its impact. Knowledge is power. A recent goal in particular of ADRLF is to explore and raise awareness around the risk factors associated with tattoos and unsafe tattoo parlors, particularly as it relates to current trends in particular populations. At Boricua, safeness around ink-culture became a key topic that sparked a range of questions. After, the testing and information session students and staff proudly took photos and offered to help spread the word!

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

Thanks to the Ryan Center’s Prevention and Education & Outreach Coordinator, Fay Barrett, and her dedicated team, those screened for hepatitis received their results within 20 minutes of testing. That is how simple this process is! And that is why you should: Screen, Vaccinate. Don’t Hesitate.

ADRLF and the Ryan Community Health Network are proud to report: fifteen students in total were tested. And, including those, twenty showed up to the event learn about hepatitis, its risks, prevention, and testing. It was a successful day, all-around.

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

Beyond that, the event marked another milestone in the expanding collaboration between the Ryan Community Health Network and the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation. Emmy-winning television star and ADRLF Founding Board Member, Carson Kressley, presented the Ryan Health Networks (recently retired) President and CEO Barbra E. Minch with a donation of $5,000 to support future testing and vaccinations for hepatitis.

All who were there were inspired to actively participate in a day of great social impact. The collegiate screening and educational event marked a first in making an impact within a university setting. It promises to be one of many to come! The entire ADRLF Board is proud and thrilled that it happened first in the Bronx!

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

(Photo Credit: Lisa Collins)

While World Hepatitis Month has come and gone, Liver Awareness Month quickly approaches in October and overlaps with Hispanic Heritage Month. Regardless of the month, day, or time — handling your health is a year round commitment!  Don’t forget to get screened during your next visit to your health care provider! We repeat: Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t Hesitate…Educate!  

*Stay tuned to ADRLF to see how you can make a difference for yourself and others throughout this season!

ADRLF Fall 2014 Newsletter

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

ADRLF News Fall 2014ADRLF News Fall 2014p2ADRLF News Fall 2014p3ADRLF News Fall 2014p4

Diet Adjustment for Hepatitis Patients: A Friendly List of Food to Avoid

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Slow and steady adjustments are necessary to cope with hepatitis B. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Slow and steady adjustments are necessary to cope with hepatitis B. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Being diagnosed with hepatitis – or other diseases – may require significant and sometimes painful adjustments to one’s diet. Dealing with these adjustments doesn’t have to be too burdensome and frustrating; if you know what food to AVOID, it should be easy to identify food that you CAN eat and make the diet change perfectly manageable.

Here’s our simple guidelines for WHAT TO AVOID when diagnosed with hepatitis or any liver disease.

Hepatitis virus attacks the liver, which is an important organ that’s responsible for breaking down chemicals and fats that we take ingest. It’s important therefore for hepatitis patients to ease the function of their liver by staying away from processed food and chemically-treated produce.

Meat, for example, is difficult to digest by the body’s digestive system, requiring much more not only of the liver but the gall bladder and pancreas as well.  Many animal products also contain chemicals from the growth hormones injected to the animals, and chemical spayed on animal food.  So it is best for hepatitis patients to avoid meat products and stick with organic protein-rich alternatives. Consequently, avoid dairy foods, which essentially come from animals and are quite difficult to digest. When choosing dairy alternatives such as yogurt, make sure to check the sugar content.

Today’s grocery stores are sprawling with ready-to-eat preserved and processed food. But convenience too has its cost that’s hidden behind the good taste or price. Processed food contains chemically-treated fillers and preservatives that pose great danger to the liver and people’s health in general. Like meat, these foods add unnecessary stress to liver function that could be unsafe for people with liver conditions.

Sugar is another culprit to avoid – may it be artificial sweetener or concentrated natural sugar. While fruits are recognized to have health benefits, some have high sugar concentrations that feed hepatitis virus and strain the pancreas and the liver. Avoid fruit juices and food made with artificial sweeteners such as junk food and candies.

Eliminating these foods from your diet doesn’t have to come as a big blow. Take it one day at a time, and you’ll be surprised at how well you adjust to eating healthy foods that make you feel good in mind and body.