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New York State Poised to Deny Hepatitis C Treatment to Thousands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 20, 2014 CONTACT: Matt Curtis, 646-234-9062, matt@vocal-ny.org. People Living with Hepatitis C, Healthcare Providers, and Advocates Demand Medicaid Coverage for New Treatment Medications NYS Medicaid placing arbitrary restrictions on hepatitis C treatment, denying the cure to thousands of low income New Yorkers. More than 200,000 New Yorkers are living with chronic […]

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Yes! Magazine: Next Week Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. Vote on Recreational Pot—And It’s About More Than Just Getting High

Next Week Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. Vote on Recreational Pot—And It’s About More Than Just Getting High If those three measures pass, more states will be added to the list of places where healing from the drug war can begin, places where people will no longer face jail time because of a little nugget in […]

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Huffington Post: States Expand Access To Lifesaving Drug After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death

States Expand Access To Lifesaving Drug After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death Story by Matt Sledge & Emily Kassie | October 28, 2014 NEW YORK — Legal changes in the wake of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s February death of a drug overdose have dramatically expanded access to a lifesaving drug that can reverse overdoses from prescription […]

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Westchester AIDS Advocates Demand Expansion of Lifesaving benefit to End AIDS in New York

October 21, 2014 | For Immediate Release Contact: Jennifer Flynn, (917) 517-5202 or jennifer@vocal-ny.org Statewide campaign to update eligibility requirements for low-income HIV+ New Yorkers is first proactive expansion of welfare in a decade; Necessary component to achieve Governor Cuomo’s Plan to End AIDS Mt. Vernon, NY – A broad coalition of leading HIV/AIDS organizations, […]

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Substance.com: Power to the People Who Use Drugs: America’s Drug User Unions

Power to the People Who Use Drugs: America’s Drug User Unions Formed to fight for “nothing about us without us” and promote health, drug user unions foster solidarity and some schisms. They’re meeting in Baltimore next week to hammer out a national plan. by Tessie Castillo | October 16, 2014 In the smoke-filled living room […]

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PR: AIDS, LGBT Advocates Demand Expansion of Life-Saving Benefits to End AIDS in New York

For Immediate Release Contact: Jennifer Flynn, (917) 517-5202 or jennifer@vocal-ny.org AIDS, LGBT ADVOCATES DEMAND EXPANSION OF LIFE-SAVING BENEFITS TO END AIDS IN NEW YORK Statewide campaign to update eligibility requirements for low-income HIV+ New Yorkers is first proactive expansion of welfare in a decade; Necessary component to achieve Governor Cuomo’s Plan to End AIDS New […]

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Advocates & Doctors Oppose NYS Medicaid Restriction on Access to Hep C Cure

October 6, 2014 | Today a coalition of 40 community health organizations, medical professionals, and others from across New York State issued comments on proposed guidelines by the state’s Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board that would greatly restrict access to Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), the backbone of new, highly effective treatment for hepatitis C (HCV) infection. If […]

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PR: HRA Announces Historic Overhaul of Clinton-Era Welfare Policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2014 Contact: Alyssa Aguilera, 917-200-1446, alyssa@vocal-ny.org or Jennifer Hadlock, 347-454-4842, jennifer@cvhaction.org Human Resources Administration (HRA) Announces Historic Overhaul of Clinton-Era Welfare Policies HRA to phase out mandated unpaid work program for welfare recipients; Ends punitive policies and “one-size fits all” procedures. New York – Today, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) announced a […]

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Daily Kos

Why I Marched Sunday (And How Mayor de Blasio Made it Worth It) Brian Pearson | September 22, 2014 I had two reasons for marching in the People’s Climate March on Sunday. First, I wanted to send a message that low-income people and people of color care about climate change. Across the globe, from New […]

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We Need to Change the Climate By Robert Tolbert | September 22, 2014 We need to change the climate. Yes, I am speaking about the actual climate. We need to stop fracking. We need to clean up our air and water. We need to recycle, rebuild, and retrofit. But we also need to change our […]

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Capital New York: In D.C., Bassett urges looser restrictions on opioid therapies

In D.C., Bassett urges looser restrictions on opioid therapies Dan Goldberg | September 16, 2014 The city health commissioner went to Washington Tuesday and urged Congress to make it easier for doctors to prescribe drugs that wean people off of heroin and other opioids. Dr. Mary Bassett was one of three health officials from large […]

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Staten Island Advance

As Staten Island battles drug overdoses, are local solutions the answer? Anna Sanders | September 16, 2014 CITY HALL — As Staten Island and other New York municipalities continue to battle a drug overdose epidemic, some believe the answer can be found in local communities. “New York is huge, we’ve got very diverse communities and […]

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Al Jazeera America

NYC lawmakers call for compassion in treating drug overdoses Marisa Taylor | September 16, 2014 NEW YORK CITY — Public health advocates and legislators rallied on the steps of New York City Hall on Tuesday morning, calling for a more compassionate approach to the city’s burgeoning drug overdose problem. “When we talk about drug addiction, […]

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substance dot com

NYC Rally Demands a More Compassionate, Effective Response to OD Deaths A rise in heroin-related fatalities sparked a demonstration at City Hall this morning, calling for increased naloxone distribution and other measures. Douglas Capraro | September 16, 2014 Lawmakers, health officials, and community groups braved the rain at City Hall this morning to advocate new […]

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VOCAL Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 16, 2014 Contacts: Matt Curtis, 646-234-9062, matt@vocal-ny.org Jeremy Saunders, 917-676-8041, jeremy@vocal-ny.org Lawmakers, Major Community Groups Call for Action to End Overdose Deaths Broad Rejection of ‘War on Drugs’ in Favor of Proven Public Health Approaches NEW YORK CITY – Today city and state elected officials and nearly 20 leading public […]

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NYT HRC IN Kit

September 15, 2014 | VOCAL has released a newly updated policy platform, How to End the Drug Overdose Epidemic in New York, reflecting the latest developments, including passage of a law we championed to allow widespread access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Read or download the paper below New York has a drug overdose crisis. […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 4, 2014 Contact: Matt Curtis, VOCAL-NY, 646-234-9062, matt@vocal-ny.org or Chelsea-Lyn Rudder, 1199SEIU, 646-413-2223, ChelseaLyn.Rudder@1199.org New hepatitis C drugs could stop an epidemic that now claims more lives in the U.S. than AIDS. An estimated 250,000 New Yorkers are living with hepatitis C, a viral infection that can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver […]

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City Limits

Can Broad Housing Coalition Get Real Change from Albany? Real Affordability for All is bringing an unusually broad coalition to press the state for changes to rent regulations and other policies to preserve affordable housing. Arturo Conde | September  4, 2014 Late last month a coalition of 50 groups, including housing, labor, health, environment and immigration […]

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NYT

Drug Overdose Deaths Matt Curtis | September 3, 2014 To the Editor: Re “Heroin’s Death Toll Rising, City Data Show, Amid a Shift in Who Uses It” (news article, Aug. 28): New York has many tested solutions available to address the alarming increase in drug overdose deaths. We propose four immediate strategies. First, we have […]

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Heroin deaths continue to rise throughout NYC Dan Goldberg | August 28, 2014 Heroin and other drug-related deaths continue to climb in New York City, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, though the pace declined in 2013, providing at least a glimmer of hope the trend is slowing. […]

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Crains New York Business

‘Ban the Box’ bill worries businesses Chris Bragg | August 20, 2014 A City Council bill barring employers from asking potential hires if they have ever been criminally convicted on job applications is meant to help felons re-enter society. But the fine print of the initiative could lead to lawsuits against employers, according to one […]

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VICTORY: New Law Expands Access to Lifesaving  Overdose Prevention Medication!

VICTORY: New Law Expands Access to Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Medication!  Naloxone Can Now Be Distributed by Standing Order and Through Pharmacies in New York State   For more information, contact Matt Curtis at matt@vocal-ny.org or 646-234-9062 Yesterday the New York State Department of Health released regulations outlining new rules that allow people who use drugs, […]

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Brooklyn DA Thompson discusses borough’s pot policies July 30, 2014 Marijuana use and how law enforcement is handling it has become a hot-button issue around the country. Medical marijuana use has been passed in a very limited number of circumstances here in New York and is already legalized in Washington and Colorado. So how are […]

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Wagining NonViolence

How grassroots power is shaping New York’s marijuana decriminalization debate Hannah K. Gold|July 25, 2014 Earlier this month, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced that his office would no longer, in many cases, prosecute low-level marijuana possession. Despite being limited to Brooklyn and allowing exceptions for people smoking in public areas or in front of […]

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Jennifer and family

Press Release | 7/23/14 VOCAL-NY Names Jennifer Flynn Executive Director; Alyssa Aguilera to Head Political & Lobbying Arm VOCAL-NY Action Fund  A Co-Founder & Former Director Returns, Bringing Significant Experience in Advocacy, Community Organizing and Coalition Building on HIV/AIDS, LGBT, Economic Justice & Drug Policy Issues  (Brooklyn, NY) VOCAL-NY announced today that Jennifer Flynn is returning as the Executive Director, while Alyssa Aguilera […]

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Huffington Post: Civil Rights Lawyer Appointed To Reform Police Oversight Board

Civil Rights Lawyer Appointed To Reform Police Oversight Board By: Matt Sledge | June 17, 2014 NEW YORK — When clients encounter police misconduct, civil rights lawyer Richard Emery often does not recommend filing a complaint with the official New York City agency charged with investigating officers. “We don’t believe that they will get speedy, […]

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City & State

State Legislators Call for Fairness in Marijuana Arrests The Fairness and Equity Act aims to address racial disparities in low-level marijuana arrests throughout the state. By Mylique Sutton Jul 09, 2014 The loosening of marijuana laws in New York continues to be the talk of the town this week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate […]

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Medical Marijuana

On July 7th, Governor Cuomo signed into law a medical marijuana bill that will provide relief for thousands of New Yorkers suffering from serious and debilitating conditions, including HIV and cancer. This was an important issue for many of our members dealing with chronic health issues. Dawn Carney, a leader and Board member from our Westchester chapter, […]

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  For Immediate Release – 6/29/14 AIDS Activists Praise Gov. Cuomo’s Plan to End Epidemic by 2020 Statement by Jason Walker, HIV/AIDS Organizer at VOCAL-NY: “We have the tools and know-how to end the AIDS epidemic in New York, the only question is whether we have the political will. Governor Cuomo’s bold pledge to end […]

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PR: Governor Cuomo Signs Major Overdose Prevention Law

Press Release | 6/23/14 Gov. Cuomo Signs Major Overdose Prevention Law Greatly Expands Access to Overdose Antidote Naloxone, Will Reduce Number One Cause of Accidental Death in New York State Health advocates, legislators, and community members today applauded New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing legislation to allow healthcare providers and pharmacies to distribute naloxone, […]

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“30% Rent Cap” Affordable Housing Protection for HASA Clients Takes Effect July 1!

HRA has issued an emergency rule implementing the “30% rent cap” affordable housing protection for HASA clients, which was signed into law by Governor Cuomo on March 31, 2014. Starting on July 1, eligible HASA clients will pay no more than 30% of their income towards their rent, and they will be paid back retroactive to April […]

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Huffington Post: Swift Action Needed in New York on Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Law

Swift Action Needed in New York on Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Law By: Robert Suarez June 20, 2014 Lately not a day goes by without new reports of an escalating drug-overdose crisis in New York. Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death, touching every community in the state. But solutions to this problem are […]

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Albany Times Union: Addiction a very public concern

Addiction a very public concern By Tracy Pugh and Matt Curtis, Commentary Monday, June 16, 2014 Nearly 2,000 New Yorkers die each year from drug overdose, with heroin and prescription pain medication involved in most of those deaths. Each year, more than 400,000 New Yorkers are in need of drug treatment but don’t receive it. These […]

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Statement on Attorney General & NYPD Initiative to Equip Police with Naloxone

“Today’s announcement is a fantastic example of how the NYPD and the Attorney General’s office can support a public health and safety approach to drug use,” Matt Curtis, Policy Director at the grassroots activist group VOCAL-NY, said. “Alongside the recent passage of major state legislation to expand distribution of naloxone to people at risk of […]

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VOCAL-NY at Rising Voices for a New Economy conference

VOCAL-NY’s Bobby Tolbert delivered a powerful speech about putting people first in our politics and our economy during the Rising Voices for a New Economy conference in Washington, DC on April 27th, 2014. Bobby spoke as a person living with HIV who relies on public programs providing life-saving medicine, housing and other essential services, which are often […]

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Leg Gazette

Overdose antidote bill now on governor’s desk By Matthew McKibben | May 12, 2014 A group that speaks for low-income New Yorkers struggling with drug addiction and HIV/AIDS stood with lawmakers in Albany last week commending the Legislature for passing a bill that would expand access to an opioid overdose antidote while calling on Gov. Andrew […]

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Christian Science Monitor

New York rethinks marijuana prosecutions of low-level offenders New York City, one of the most aggressive prosecutors of marijuana offenses in the US, is rethinking the practice, with an eye to avoid stigmatizing young black and Latino men. By Harry Bruinius, Staff writer / May 13, 2014 When Alfredo Carrasquillo was busted last year for possessing a nickle […]

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WPIX: NY’ers living with AIDS says de Blasio’s budget will help low income people suffering from disease

NY’ers living with AIDS says de Blasio’s budget will help low income people suffering from disease (Watch the full video segment here. A summary appears below.) May 8, 2014 | by Ann Mercogliano BROOKLYN (PIX11) –  Reginald Brown is a low income New Yorker living with AIDS. He said the Mayor’s budget will relieve stress for […]

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News Channel 13 WNYT

Bill would expand access to drug that counteracts heroin, some painkillers (Watch the video segment online) 05/08/2014 | By: Steve Flamisch ALBANY – State lawmakers have passed a bill that would expand access to the drug naloxone (Narcan), which can reverse an overdose of opioids such as heroin and morphine. While many drug treatment centers, syringe […]

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PR: NY Legislature Passes Overdose Prevention Bill; Advocates Urge Gov. Cuomo to Quickly Sign into Law

Press Release | 5/7/14 New York Legislature Unanimously Passes Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Bill; Advocates Urge Gov. Cuomo to Quickly Sign into Law Legislation Will Reduce Number One Cause of Accidental Death in New York State by Increasing Access to Antidote, Naloxone (Narcan) Albany, NY – Advocates are calling on Governor Cuomo to sign a bi-partisan bill […]

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Statement by Real Affordability for All coalition on Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan

Statement regarding Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan: “Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan is a major step forward. The plan will increase the real affordability of housing for low-income and moderate-income New Yorkers, and right the wrongs of the Bloomberg years. The Mayor’s team has listened to the concerns […]

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Daily Beast

How to Really Rein In the Super Rich Thomas Piketty is right—inequality is on the rise. But until Wall Street gets out of Washington, neither the French economist nor regular Americans will be able to shift the status quo. By Sally Kohn | 04.29.14 Thomas Piketty, meet Bobby Tolbert. Piketty is the French economist who […]

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Daily News

Proposed city law would ban asking job applicants about their criminal records BY ERIN DURKIN | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS April 27, 2014 Businesses would be banned from asking job applicants about their criminal records under a new bill being introduced in the City Council. The bill, which will be introduced this week, would prohibit commonly used […]

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New York Times – Paths to Stopping Painkiller Overdoses

Paths to Stopping Painkiller Overdoses APRIL 24, 2014 To the Editor: Evzio, the naloxone auto-injector device newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reversal of an opioid overdose, is a missed opportunity. Despite extremely limited public funding, community-based health organizations have distributed naloxone, an inexpensive, nontoxic medication not under patent protection, since the […]

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The Nation: Bill de Blasio’s Great Experiment

Bill de Blasio’s Great Experiment A report on the first 100 days of New York’s progressive new mayor Jarrett Murphy | April 15, 2014 (Excerpt below, read the full article online at The Nation.) One victory involved housing benefits for people with HIV/AIDS. For years, advocates had complained that, because of a wrinkle in the law, tenants of […]

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PR: Attorney General Schneiderman Takes on Overdose Crisis

Press Release | 4/3/14 | Drug Policy Alliance & VOCAL NY NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Takes on Overdose Crisis, Introduces Country’s First Statewide Naloxone Program for Use by Law Enforcement Announcement Comes as FDA Announces Approval of Innovative New Device to Reverse Opiate Overdose Expanding Access to Naloxone will Save Lives, Curb Overdose Epidemic  NEW YORK – […]

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PR: Landmark Affordable Housing Protection for Low-Income People with HIV/AIDS in State Budget

Press Release | 4/3/14 Advocates, Elected Officials & de Blasio Administration Celebrate Landmark Affordable Housing Protection for Low-Income People with HIV/AIDS in State Budget  “30% Rent Cap” in HIV/AIDS Rental Assistance Program Closes Loophole that Pushed Thousands into Homelessness New York – The recently approved state budget included a “30% rent cap” affordable housing protection for clients […]

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YOU’RE INVITED – VOCAL-NY’s 15th Anniversary Gala

Save the Date April 10, 2014, 6 – 9 pm 1199/SEIU Penthouse 330 West 42nd St. New York, NY 10036 Register and buy tickets here. If you have any questions, please contact Tatiana Nobels at tatiana@vocal-ny.org or 914-257-9232. HONORING Melissa Mark-Viverito, SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL asha bandele, AUTHOR & POET, DIRECTOR OF […]

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PR: New York Senate Passes Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Bill to Expand Naloxone Access

PRESS RELEASE – 3/27/14 Contact: Matt Curtis, 646-234-9062 Senate Passes Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Bill  Legislation Will Reduce Number One Cause of Accidental Death in New York State by Increasing Access to Antidote, Naloxone Today the Senate voted unanimously (58-0) to pass legislation (S6477/A8637) sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) and a diverse bipartisan coalition of Senators […]

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Rally to End AIDS in New York on March 19th!

Hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS and service providers travelled to Albany on March 19th to call for an end to the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020. (Media coverage included the Albany Times Union, CBS Albany and Capital New York, and you can see photos from the day here.) State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah spoke about how New York can lead the way in ending […]

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Albany Times Union

NY deal with drug maker paves way for plan to end HIV State agreement with pharmaceutical firm is part of plan to reduce incidence of AIDS By Claire Hughes | Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Albany The state has negotiated a deal with a major pharmaceutical company to cut the price of anti-retroviral drugs to treat HIV, […]

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(Governor Cuomo’s press release announcing the agreement is available here.)  PRESS RELEASE | 2/13/14 Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio Reach Agreement to Prevent Homelessness for 12,000 Low-Income New Yorkers Living With HIV/AIDS Agreement will fix loophole in HIV/AIDS rental assistance program that denies tenants a “30% rent cap” affordable housing protection, leads to high rates […]

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Huff Post small logo

Heroin Overdose Prevention Bill Advances In New York After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death By: Matt Sledge, 02/04/2014 A bill meant to stem deaths from heroin overdoses advanced in the New York Senate Tuesday, just days after actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent drug overdose. Sponsored by State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R), the bill would increase access […]

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PRESS RELEASE  | 01/31/2014 Sen. Hannon and Assm. Dinowitz Introduce Life-Saving Opioid Overdose Prevention Bill Legislation Will Reduce Number One Cause of Accidental Death in New York State by Increasing Access to Antidote, Naloxone Bill Builds on Historic 911 Good Samaritan Law that Passed Nearly Unanimously in Both Houses This week Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) and […]

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Amsterdam News

Help needed for those people living with AIDS and seeking housing REGINALD BROWN | 1/23/2014 When I was diagnosed with HIV, I had no idea that one of the biggest challenges I would face would not be juggling medical appointments and treatment decisions or telling friends and family about my status, but simply keeping my […]

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New Coalition of LGBT Celebrities, Elected Officials, and Other Leaders Urges Cuomo to Protect Affordable Housing for New Yorkers Living With HIV/AIDS

A coalition of more than 100 LGBT celebrities, labor leaders, elected officials, activists, media personalities, artists, and allies is launching a campaign, led by VOCAL-NY, to get Governor Cuomo to use this year’s state budget to close a loophole that denies affordable housing to homeless and low-income people with HIV/AIDS. Read coverage of the  campaign in the […]

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am New York

Drug users say legal syringes sometimes confiscated By SHEILA ANNE FEENEY | January 8, 2014 While police confiscations of syringes have gone down since a state law in 2010 permitted people to carry those that are legally obtained, it still goes on in the city, according to harm reduction educators and some drug users. “There […]

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crowd and screen NY1

Activists Want Mayor-Elect’s Help To End AIDS In NYC (Watch the video online) HIV/AIDS activists say they want to end AIDS in New York City, and they are looking to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio for help. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report. More than 100,000 New Yorkers are estimated to be HIV positive, but […]

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