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Trillium Health Mourns the Passing of Two Champions of HIV/AIDS Care

Oct 30, 2023

October 30, 2023 (Rochester, NY) - Trillium Health mourns the recent passing of two longtime champions of HIV/AIDS care in the Rochester community: Sue Cowell and Sister Arlene Helget. Sue Cowell helped to establish AIDS Rochester in 1983, which later merged with Community Health Network to form what is now Trillium Health. She also played a role in the formation of The MOCHA Center in 1996. The MOCHA Center is focused on the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ communities of color, and it became part of Trillium Health in 2015.

As Trillium Health co-founder Dr. William Valenti recalls, Cowell made a difference in the lives of thousands of people. “She was a mover and a shaker, and she was on top right from the beginning,” Valenti said, referring to Cowell as an “AIDS Warrior.” “She wanted to get people tested and she wanted to overcome the stigma.”

Jason Barnecut-Kearns, President and CEO of Trillium Health, also shared fond memories of Cowell. He served on the board of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley when Cowell was Executive Director of the organization. “She was an incredibly dedicated member of our LGBTQ+ community, and she helped lay the groundwork for so many efforts that continue today, especially here at Trillium Health,” Barnecut-Kearns said.

Trillium Health also remembers Sister Arlene Helget, a Sister of St. Joseph for 39 years, and a longtime volunteer with AIDS Rochester and Community Health Network during the height of the AIDS crisis. She touched many lives with her love, compassion, and acceptance.

Read more about these two incredible women and the legacy they leave:

Dr. Valenti remembers Sue Cowell in blog post

Obituary for Sister Arlene Helget

About Trillium Health

Trillium Health is a community health center dedicated to providing extraordinary care to individuals regardless of their ability to pay. With its holistic approach to healthcare, Trillium Health has a team of dedicated professionals – including physicians, nurses, care managers, and pharmacists – who work together to ensure that each patient receives the comprehensive and compassionate care that they deserve. Trillium Health is proud to serve everyone who walks through their doors – regardless of income, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or ethnicity. For more information, please visit