Announcement made at the Ending AIDS 2020: Blueprint to Action Conference
Governor Cuomo announced that major steps are being taken across the state to implement the Governor’s plan to end AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by the end of 2020. The Governor received the final blueprint for this goal from his “Ending the Epidemic Task Force” just two months ago, and today’s actions represent the first major steps forward toward full implementation of the plan’s three main pillars. Those three pillars are: (1) expanding HIV testing, (2) ensuring that everyone with HIV can get treatment, and (3) increasing the availability of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that helps HIV-negative individuals reduce their risk of becoming infected. Members of Governor Cuomo's administration will attend a conference today entitled Ending AIDS 2020: Blueprint to Action, where they will discuss the goals and strategies of this plan.
“Today, we are taking action to help stop new HIV infections and make the AIDS epidemic a relic of the past in New York state," Governor Cuomo said. "By enacting these key parts our action plan, we are creating a national model to battle the spread of this disease and end this nightmare once and for all."
In April, Governor Cuomo accepted the blueprint for executing his plan from the state’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force and has begun implementing its recommendations with the overall goal of reducing the annual number of new HIV infections to just 750 (from an estimated 3,000) by the end of 2020 and achieve New York’s first ever decrease in HIV prevalence.
“New York was once the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic, but thanks to the work of Governor Cuomo and the state’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force, we are now a national leader in pushing rates of infection to sub-epidemic levels” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “The blueprint to end AIDS as an epidemic lays out a comprehensive plan to win this battle and with this funding, we can begin its implementation.”
Funding Community-Based Clinics and Promoting PrEP
The Governor is directing $3 million in funding toward the goal of linking up to 1,000 people from the populations at greatest risk for HIV/AIDS to PrEP. These populations include gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, and serodiscordant couples – those in which one partner lives with HIV/AIDS and the other does not.
Another $600,000 is being used to support a statewide public awareness campaign entitled “HIV Prevention Just Got Easier – one pill once a day can protect you from HIV.” The campaign began in early June and coincides with events across the state celebrating LGBT Pride Month. Ads and billboards can be seen throughout the State and to date, educators have given out more than 30,000 brochures, palm cards, and other promotional items that provide vital information about PrEP and how to obtain it. This campaign will also include sites along the route of the New York City Pride March.
Increasing Viral Suppression Rates
The Governor is also directing the Department of Health to work with relevant agencies to take steps to increase viral suppression rates. Specifically, access to prevention and other testing methods are being made available to support programs statewide that are focused on providing young gay men and MSM, a population that continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, with a comprehensive range of HIV prevention services. These include counseling and testing services which use new technologies to detect infections much earlier. Already, these services are being provided within the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision facilities to identify and link HIV positive inmates to care. It is estimated that as many as 1,000 inmates are HIV infected and not in care. These efforts promote engagement in care, individual viral suppression and a coordinated transition into the community with no gaps in treatment or care.
The Governor’s administration is also cross referencing between the State’s Medicaid and HIV registries to identify people who are not virally suppressed and link them to care and treatment. Once identified these individuals are provided with support to re-engage them in care and promote positive health outcomes. It is anticipated that these efforts will link up to 10,000 individuals to life-saving treatment that will improve their health and achieve viral suppression.
Identifying Undiagnosed Persons and Linking Them to Care and Treatment
To expand access to HIV testing, the Governor has also directed the Department of Health to conduct a statewide review of hospitals with emergency departments across the State. The review of HIV testing policies and the medical charts of 5,000 patients will ensure compliance with the state’s HIV testing law which requires that every New Yorker between the ages of 13-64 is offered an HIV test.
These efforts are in conjunction with existing public health practices that support a reduction in new infections, increased access to care and targeted prevention through behavioral and biomedical interventions is moving New York State closer to ending the epidemic.
For more information please go to www.health.ny.gov/ete.