December 1, 2015
Albany, NY

Video, Audio & Transcript: Governor Cuomo Marks World AIDS Day as New York State Continues Progress Toward Ending the Epidemic

TOP Video, Audio & Transcript: Governor Cuomo...
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Today, Governor Cuomo observed World AIDS Day – a global day of action to commemorate those who have died as a result of HIV/AIDS and to recommit to combatting the epidemic. Marking the occasion, the Governor announced a $500,000 commitment from the State to help fund the New York City AIDS Memorial. The Governor made this announcement in a speech at the Apollo Theater, where he also received the World AIDS Day Leadership Award from the End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition.
The Governor has also announced that in addition to the $2.5 billion that the State currently directs to HIV/AIDS efforts, his administration will make additional financial and programmatic commitments of $200 million to ensure that New York State Ends AIDS by 2020. More information is available here.

Finally, the Governor has also directed that the lights on One World Trade Center’s 408-foot spire, as well as the top of the Alfred E. Smith Building and the SUNY System Administration Building in Albany, light up red tonight in recognition of World AIDS Day.

Video of the Governor’s remarks are available in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here, and on YouTube here.

Audio of the Governor’s remarks is available here.

Photos of today’s event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page shortly.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

“Wow, wow, wow! This is exciting. First to be at the Apollo theatre, to be with people who I respect and I admire for many, many years. First to Charles King in Housing Works who has been doing it the hard way for a long, long time. I’m so proud of him. To Jacqui Kilmer in Harlem United – let’s give her a round of applause for all their good work. To all the members of the AIDS 2020 Coalition, thank you, thank you, thank you for your great work. Let’s give them a round of applause.

We have my colleagues here whom Charles noted, the elected officials who are here, and I want to thank them very much for their presence. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. We have my counsel who has really been extraordinary in this regard – Alphonso David – I want to acknowledge him. We have Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Brad Hoylman. Brad Hoylman, this past year was fighting tenaciously for $500,000 to fund an AIDS memorial downtown on 12th Street. He would not take no for an answer. He was committed to it, he was working it 24 hours a day and it’s on my desk now and I’d just like to say to Senator Hoylman, “yes were going to do that and you’re right. $500,000 to the AIDS Memorial.” Let me applaud all the people in this room who have worked long and hard, this has been a struggle, but you brought it home – give yourselves a round of applause.

25 years – I was talking to Charles about it – unfortunately, we’re old enough to remember when it started. But it has been a long and a hard and a tough 25 years. When HIV/AIDS first started, it was not really a medical crisis – it was worse, it was a social crisis. HIV/AIDS became a lightning rod for stereotyping and for discrimination. It was used to fan the flames of fear and bigotry. It was a looking glass into the soul of society. Individual and collective reactions spoke volumes. Some building closed their doors, some families cast aside loved ones. President Reagan refuse to acknowledge the disease for three years of his presidency. But then there were those who rose to the occasion who would open the hearts and open their minds and reached out to people like the people who are in this room today. We had government leaders who led with the voice of our better angels. I’m very proud to say that the first state and the first governor that responded to the AIDS crisis with a real action plan was the State of New York and Governor Mario Cuomo.

We have made remarkable progress – you put education together with medical advancement, together with political activism and that has been the real cocktail of success. This year is the first year where there have been no mother to newborn transmissions. Isn’t that amazing?

But we are not home yet. The goal is to end the epidemic and that’s why New York was the first state to give it a date – a target date – 2020 as the date to end the AIDS epidemic and end it once and for all – that’s success! Now to get that done, there’s no time for complacency. All of our partners need to double their efforts in this final push. All levels of government must energize their efforts and my friends, it starts with the federal government. The federal government’s main housing program is something called HOPWA – I used to administer it when I was secretary of housing during the Clinton administration. The housing budget under HOPWA for people with AIDS is the same level it was five years ago. That is simply not acceptable, we need the federal government, we need them full throated and we needed to be part of the conversation. We’re now about to select a president. We’ve watched all the debates – Democratic debates, Republican debates – there’s a debate every day. I have not heard a question to any candidate on HIV/AIDS. That is just wrong. I say to the media today “let’s talk about the issues that matter and let’s stop talking about Donald Trump’s vision and let’s start talking about HIV/AIDS and what their plan is going to be.”

In New York, we believe in leading by example, we don’t talk, we show. This state now spends $2.5 billion for people with AIDS, between healthcare and housing. I’m proud to say this state spends more than any other state in the United States of America and were proud of it. But we need to do more and we’re going to lead the way. I’m going to go to my colleagues in the Legislature this January and I’m going to propose an additional $200 million to fund the program’s healthcare and housing for people with AIDS.

Our effort will be implementing the recommendation of the AIDS task force that Charles spoke about and served on. More housing through HOPWA. More life insurance coverage. More life insurance coverage for people living with HIV. More enhanced Medicaid and managed care coverage. More availability of proven drugs like PrEP for anyone who needs them. It has been a long journey but I give you my word: we will not end until we reach our target. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not even that our work is going to end in 2020 – we’ll have ended the epidemic here, but then we have to take all our know-how and knowledge and all our medications and go to the countries around the world that are still suffering mightily from this disease.

In closing let me say this, I’m not surprised that New York has been the epicenter of this crisis for 25 years. We’ve experienced both the most intense pain and the most success. We lost over 150,000 of our brothers and sisters during that period of time. I’m not surprised that New Yorkers like the people in this room led the way because that is the New York credo. We are the progressive capital of the nation. The capital of diversity and of community, we welcome and we celebrate our differences and we fiercely defend our individual rights because that’s what makes us who are as New Yorkers. In the heart of New York, we believe the strongest four letter words are not hate but love. Not fear, but hope. We carry that banner high and proud.

That’s why New York was the birthplace to the women’s rights movement in Seneca Falls, that’s why New York was the birthplace to the Workers’ Rights Movement at the Shirtwaist Triangle factory fire, that’s why New York was the birthplace to the Gay Rights Movement at Stonewall.

And we live that legacy today. It’s who we are, it’s where we came from, and it is where we are going. And New York is a monument to the nation on the progressive direction forward. It’s our past, it’s our present, it’s our future.

That’s why we passed marriage equality and we said to this nation: don’t you discriminate on who can love and who can’t love. All people have the right to marry, and we passed marriage equality.

That is why we stood up and we signed an executive order banning gender identity discrimination when the legislature wouldn’t pass GENDA. We did it with an executive order because we’re not going to tolerate discrimination against anyone, anywhere, at any time.

That’s why we stood up for racial justice after the Eric Garner case and appointed the first and only independent prosecutor in the United States of America.

That’s why New York opens its arms to refugees from war-torn countries, because that’s what New York is all about.

That’s why we proposed increasing the minimum wage to $15 – the highest amount in the United States of America, because that’s the New York way.

And that’s why we will not stop fighting until this epidemic is over in 2020. Thank you and god bless you, and thank you for the honor.”

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640

Abany Press Office: 518.474.8418