PR: Governor’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic Task Force Finalizes Blueprint to End AIDS in NYS by 2020

PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday, January 13, 2015   
CONTACT: Jennifer Flynn: (917) 517-5202, jennifer@vocal-ny.org

Proposals include Expansion of Rental Assistance for all HIV+ New Yorkers, Full Access to Clean Syringes and Comprehensive Ban on Condoms as Evidence

ALBANY, NY – JANUARY 13, 2015.  Today the Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force, convened by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) formally completed the Blueprint to End AIDS in New York State by 2020.

The plan includes a proposal to expand enhanced rental assistance, food and transportation allowance to all HIV+ New Yorkers statewide. The recommendation calls for the creation of a single point of entry for HIV+ individuals to access lifesaving benefits. “If the Governor commits the money that we need in the budget to this recommendation, we will ensure that 10,000 more New Yorkers have a medically appropriate place to sleep. We know that stable housing helps ensure treatment adherence. This proposal will bring us many steps closer to getting to zero new infections and ending AIDS in NYS., said VOCAL Board member Robert Tolbert, who attended the final meeting of the Task Force.

The Governor charged the State Department of Health to develop and issue an executive plan for New York State to achieve the stated goals of:

  • “Identifying persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
  • Linking and retaining persons diagnosed with HIV to health care and getting them on anti-HIV therapy to maximize HIV virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission; and
  • Facilitating access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk persons to keep them HIV negative.”

The Blueprint includes other proposals such as a recommendation to Fully Legalize Syringe Possession by repealing Section 220.45 of the Criminal Law and removing barriers to purchasing syringes in pharmacies. In addition, a bill has been introduced in the legislature by Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried today to accomplish this.

“If there were needle exchange programs or if you buy clean syringes in pharmacies back in the day, I would not be HIV+”, said Wayne Starks, VOCAL board member in attendance at the meeting today. “We can get to zero and end AIDS in NYS if we make sure that everyone who needs them has access to a clean syringe.”, he continued.

“We are looking forward to working with the State and local elected officials to enact these lifesaving recommendations. VOCAL members in Westchester and Albany have a little more hope that they will now be able to get the assistance they need to access housing. We are looking forward to seeing a budget that includes resources for all of the recommendations so that we can really end AIDS in NYS.”, said Jennifer Flynn, Executive Director of VOCAL and a member of the Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force.

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