Governor Cuomo Marks World AIDS Day as New York State Continues Progress Toward Ending the Epidemic

December 1, 2015

From the Office of Governor Cuomo

Governor Commits $500,000 to Help Fund the New York City AIDS Memorial

Governor Also Has Committed $200 Million to Support HIV/AIDS Efforts in 2016-2017 Budget, Supplementing the $2.5 Billion the State Currently Directs to Address HIV/AIDS

One World Trade Center, Alfred E. Smith Building and SUNY Administration Building to Light Up in Red Tonight

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today 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. Additionally, the Governor has 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.

The Governor made these announcements at the Apollo Theater in New York City, where he also received the World AIDS Day Leadership Award from the End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition. Because of the Governor’s actions, New York State is a national leader in providing high quality support services to individuals infected with HIV/AIDS, directing more than $2.5 billion annually to fight against the disease.

“Today, we honor the friends, relatives and loved ones who have died because of this terrible epidemic, and we pledge to do whatever is necessary to end AIDS in the near future,” said Governor Cuomo. “I believe that every state has an obligation to end AIDS, and here in New York, we are leading by example. We are expanding testing, ensuring that everyone with HIV can get treatment, and breaking down barriers to preventive medicine. New York State is rapidly closing the gap against this epidemic, and we will not stop until it is a thing of the past.”

The New York City AIDS Memorial will be the first permanent, free-standing tribute in New York City to the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died from AIDS, as well as the countless others who have helped to raise awareness and care for those living with AIDS. The shovel-ready project will be located at W. 12th St. and Greenwich Ave., and will feature an 18-foot triangular canopy structure creating a gateway to the park and a covered gathering location.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo also made a series of announcements regarding the next phase of New York State’s Plan to End the AIDS Epidemic in the State. First, he 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, including:

  1. expanding the availability of affordable housing and providing additional housing assistance for those living with HIV;
  2. making life insurance available to individuals between the ages of 30 and 60 living with HIV;
  3. investing more funding into Medicaid Managed Care Plans; and
  4.  investing more funding to help enhance services at “One Stop” STD clinics in New York City.

Governor Cuomo is also calling on the federal government to increase its contribution nationwide for housing assistance for people living with HIV and AIDS. Funding from the federal government for the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) nationwide has remained effectively stagnant for more than five years at less than $300 million annually, and renewed support from Washington is vital to maintaining the progress that has been achieved thus far in addressing the epidemic.

In addition to these items, the Governor plans to outline other components to the State's plan to End AIDS in the Governor's State of the State address and executive budget early next year.

Further, the Governor announced that the State has made great strides toward his goal to End AIDS by 2020. No new cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV have been reported since August of 2014, for the first time there have been no new cases over a twelve-month period since the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. Additionally, New York State has been recognized as a national leader in the effort to increase availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) a medication that helps HIV-negative individuals reduce their risk of becoming infected. Since June 2014, there has been a more than 300 percent increase in PrEP use among Medicaid enrollees.

To date, more than 202,000 New Yorkers have been diagnosed with AIDS, and more than 112,000 individuals in the State are currently living with diagnosed HIV/AIDS. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo’s “Ending the Epidemic Task Force” delivered its final blueprint for fulfilling the goal of ending the epidemic by 2020. Since that time, major steps have been taken to implement the plan’s three main pillars of: (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. This includes: significantly increasing the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), enhanced efforts to increase viral suppression rates among state prison inmates, and identification of thousands of HIV-infected Medicaid recipients in need of support to achieve viral suppression.

Significant key accomplishments currently underway include:

New York State significantly reduces Mother-to Child transmission of HIV/AIDS
Over the last 12 months, for the first time since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, New York State had zero reports of HIV/AIDS infections passed from mother to child. While this data is preliminary, it reflects extremely high rates of viral suppression among HIV-infected women of child-bearing age. It also demonstrates the quality of New York’s newborn screening program, which ensures an aggressive stance toward testing pregnant women and that all HIV exposed infants are identified and treated prophylactically as appropriate.

New York State significantly reduces estimates of New Yorkers living with HIV
New technology and an improved methodology have allowed the state to develop a more accurate depiction of New Yorkers living with HIV. Updated surveillance systems and effective use of field investigators actively looking for people who appear to have fallen out of care have resulted in a decrease of approximately 20,000 persons included in the State’s Cascade of Care. The new cascade model assigns cases based on an analysis of recent addresses and patterns of accessing care.

National recognition of New York State’s uptake in PrEP
New York State is being recognized nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its work facilitating access to PrEP, point three in Governor Cuomo’s three point plan to end the HIV epidemic. There was a greater than three-fold increase in PrEP use among Medicaid recipients in 2015. On Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day – State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker will present the findings during a national teleconference hosted by the CDC.

Next steps in support of ending the epidemic include:

NYS Increases Commitment to Helping Individuals with HIV/AIDS Obtain Affordable Housing/Housing Assistance
Access to affordable, safe and stable housing was a key recommendation of the ETE Blueprint developed by the Task Force. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has expanded supportive housing which directly benefits individuals with HIV/AIDS and, in the next fiscal year, will be further expanding affordable housing and providing housing assistance for those living with HIV.

Recommendations include key interventions that effectively address complex and intersecting health and social conditions and reduce health disparities, particularly among New York’s low-income and most vulnerable and marginalized residents. These interventions seek to diminish barriers to care and enhance access to care and treatment leaving no sub-population behind. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has prioritized housing and continues to work with the City of New York to provide access to affordable housing.

NYS Approves Life Insurance Product for Persons Living with HIV
Both permanent and term life insurance will now be available to individuals living with HIV, between the ages of 30 and 60, provided there is sufficient insurable interest and an individual meets specific underwriting criteria. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has approved the life insurance product to be sold effective December 1. The availability of life insurance for persons living with HIV is responsive to historic stigma against persons living with HIV and is reflective of advances in care that make an average life span a reality for many New Yorkers living with HIV.

NYS Launches Medicaid Managed Care Program to Promote Patient Linkage and Retention in Care
A new pilot program with Medicaid Managed Care plans will help bring 6,000 HIV positive patients into care and provide support to achieve viral suppression. To support the pilot, $500,000 is being awarded to five plans to develop or strengthen systems to locate and engage individuals whose current health status is in question. In 2016, the data sharing and case finding will be expanded to include all Medicaid Managed Care Plans.

NYS Provides Additional Funding to NYC “One-Stop” STD Clinics to Enhance Services
New York State is providing an additional $1 million in funding to New York City clinics that provide diagnoses and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). The funding will be used to employ a ‘One-Stop STD Clinic’ model, which provides immediate access to PrEP and anti-retrovirals for newly diagnosed HIV-positive persons. This model provides access to targeted prevention, access to medical care including HIV and STD screening and treatment, bio-medical (PrEP) and behavioral prevention services.

NYS Provides Support for HIV-positive inmates in New York State correctional facilities
For the first time, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) are working together to identify all HIV-positive inmates in state prison who appear to be out of care. This public health initiative will encourage all HIV-infected inmates to achieve viral suppression, which improves their own long term health prospects and makes it less likely they can transmit the disease to others. These efforts also decrease the long term costs to the State.

NYS Intensifies actions to ensure compliance with the HIV testing law
New York State has reviewed all hospitals operating in the State for compliance with the routine HIV testing offer as mandated by state law. The review, which was completed this year, found that many hospitals did not have adequate policies and procedures. Today, 100 percent of hospitals have policies and procedures. Further, the State is reviewing thousands of patient admission records across hospital emergency departments to ensure compliance with the mandatory offer of HIV testing to individuals ages 13-64.

NYS engages New Yorkers in ending the epidemic through statewide regional forums
Over a three month period, more than 800 New Yorkers have participated in state sponsored regional discussions on local efforts for ending the AIDS epidemic. Local leaders and elected officials are paving the way to implement key strategies through the initiation of regionally based task forces, public education initiatives, and the establishment of community-based networks to develop local action plans.

2015 Launch of the NYS ETE Dashboard
New York State launched an ETE Dashboard system – a public website to broadly disseminate information on the progress of New York's groundbreaking initiative to end the AIDS epidemic. The Dashboard system displays the latest information about New York State’s AIDS epidemic including information on, HIV incidence and prevalence, as well as HIV prevention, testing, and care. Funded by DOH, the ETE Dashboard was designed and is maintained by Hunter College and the School of Public Health of the City University of New York, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

World AIDS Day
In observance of World AIDS Day this year, Governor Cuomo will appear at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York on Dec. 1 at 11:00 a.m. at a community event hosted by End AIDS coalition. Further, DOH will honor individuals from throughout the state for their commitment, contribution and response to improve and promote the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. To honor those who have passed and show support for those living with HIV/AIDS, New Yorkers of all ages are invited to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany on Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sections of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display and education sessions are open to the public. The DOH World AIDS Day event promotes education and awareness. Education is key to reducing related stigma and discrimination and achieving the end of the epidemic in our state by the end of 2020.

For additional information on Ending the AIDS Epidemic in New York State, visit: health.ny.gov/EndingtheEpidemic.

The full schedule of events and additional information on World AIDS Day activities is available here, and information on the New York State Cascade of Treatment is available here.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school and business in the state. In 2015–16, SUNY served nearly 1.3 million students, including nearly 600,000 in credit-bearing courses and programs and more than 700,000 through continuing education and community outreach programs. SUNY students and faculty across the state make significant contributions to research and discovery, resulting in nearly $1 billion of externally sponsored activity each year. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu.


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