Community leaders, people living with HIV & AIDS, celebrities, and elected and city officials to speak at Harlem’s World Famous Apollo Theater
December 1, 2014 | New York, NY—Today, the New York City World AIDS Day Coalition, consisting of over 40 AIDS-service and community-based organizations, medical providers, the NYC Council Speaker’s Office, and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene hosted a community launch of the Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Campaign, a state plan to end AIDS in New York by the year 2020. The launch took place at Harlem’s World Famous Apollo Theater and provide an opportunity for the general public to learn more about the campaign and how New Yorkers can help.
The launch featured Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Senators Brad Hoylman, Daniel Squadron, and Gustavo Rivera; Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Daniel O’Donnell; Council Members Corey Johnson, Danny Dromm, and Annabel Palma; Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and Assistant Commissioner Demetre Daskalakis and Community leaders, people living with HIV & AIDS, and celebrities.
Senator Brad Hoylman, who is a member of the Public Officials Advisory Committee to the Governor’s Task Force on Ending the Epidemic said, “As we come together once again to commemorate World AIDS Day, we reflect upon those we have lost while standing with those who are still fighting this insidious disease. This year’s commemoration, however, carries with it an unprecedented energy and hopefulness. As unbelievable as it may have seemed even a decade ago, the end of the AIDS epidemic is within our reach, and I commend Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, VOCAL-NY and the many organizations and elected officials gathered here for their commitment to achieving that extraordinary goal.” Senator Hoylman introduced one of the most significant demands of the event-a campaign to expand enhanced rental assistance to all HIV+ New Yorkers.
“After a long history of struggling with one of the worst AIDS epidemic in the country, New York now has the medical tools and willpower to establish itself as a leader in the eradication of this disease,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “We need to work together to implement the necessary policies that will help prevent new infections and improve the quality of life of those afflicted by the disease. I commend the NYC World AIDS Coalition for coming together to celebrate how far we have come and to lay out a comprehensive plan to end AIDS in our State as an epidemic by 2020.”, said, Senator Gustavo Rivera.
“World AIDS Day is a call to action in the campaign against HIV/AIDS,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “New York has the tools to stop the spread of AIDS and we’ve made tremendous progress. New York is reshaping health care delivery, and recognizing the importance of supportive housing and affordable housing. We need truly universal health coverage that works for every New Yorker if we’re going to win this fight.”, said, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried.
The event took place at Harlem’s World Famous Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th Street between Frederick Douglass & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. from 10-noon.
On October 14, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced members of a Task Force that will work to implement the plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York. The Ending the Epidemic Task Force—whose work will be supplemented by two advisory groups in the near future—will support the effort to reduce the number of new HIV infections to 750 per year by 2020. Together, all three groups will consist of experts and community advocates from across New York and will perform public outreach and awareness campaigns in line with the Governor’s plan.
The end of the AIDS epidemic in New York will occur when the total number of new HIV infections has fallen below the number of HIV-related deaths. In June, Governor Cuomo announced a three-point plan to decrease new HIV infections to the point where the number of people living with HIV in New York State is reduced for the first time by:
On stage, the speakers, many of whom were living with AIDS, identified the importance of creating bold new initiatives such as expanding enhanced rental assistance to all HIV+ New Yorkers so that they can gain access to housing instead of remaining homeless and to create a new insurance program to cover the cost of Post Exposure Prophylaxis treatment.
New York State’s only openly HIV+ elected official, Councilmember Corey Johnson, said, “We now know that we can end the AIDS epidemic in NYS. It is a real and achievable goal, but only if we make sure that all HIV+ New Yorkers have access to a real rental assistance program that will make the difference between homelessness and stable housing. That’s what we provide for NYC residents living with AIDS, but to end the epidemic we need to make sure this program gets expanded to all NYers living with HIV statewide. I am committed to getting this done in NYC and as a member of the Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Public Officials Advisory Committee, I will work to make sure that this gets done statewide.”
Wanda Hernandez, Board Chair of VOCAL-NY, Peer Educator at BOOM! Health and a member of the NYC HASA Advisory Committee introduced the Mayor, thanking him for saving her from eviction when he and Governor Cuomo reached an agreement to cap the amount of money that people living with AIDS spend towards their rent to just 30% of their income.
“The 2014 theme for World AIDS Day is ‘focus, partner, achieve: an AIDS-free generation.” As the Public Advocate for the City in New York, I am committed to achieving an AIDS –free generation. We can no longer maintain the status quo. New York City has always been on the forefront of ending AIDS and we must continue these efforts. The key going forward is getting people tested and ensuring those who test positive are engaged in the proper care to suppress the virus and offering affordable and easily accessible preventative drugs for those who test negative. By focusing and partnering as a united front, we will end the epidemic, so let’s get to work today and break the status quo”, said, Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York.
LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS—NYC WORLD AIDS DAY COALITION:
ACRIA • ACT UP NY • AID FOR AIDS • ALI FORNEY CENTER • AMIDA CARE • AREA • APICHA CHC • ARGUS COMMUNITY INC. • BAILEY HOUSE • BOOM!HEALTH • CALLEN-LORDE COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER • DIASPORA • ELMCOR • END AIDS NOW • EXPONENTS • FEDERATION OF PROTESTANT WELFARE AGENCIES • GMAD • GMHC • GREATER THAN AIDS • HARLEM UNITED • HARM REDUCTION COALITION • HELP/PSI • HETRICK-MARTIN INSTITUTE • HISPANIC FEDERATION • HOUSING WORKS • IRIS HOUSE • LATINO COMMISSION ON AIDS • LEGAL ACTION CENTER • LGBT CENTER / THE CENTER • MANHATTAN LEGAL SERVICES • MORRIS HEIGHTS HEALTH CENTER • MOUNT SINAI HEALTH SYSTEM • NATIONAL BLACK LEADERSHIP COMMISSION ON AIDS • NYC COUNCIL LGBT CAUCUS • NY HARM REDUCTION EDUCATORS • NYC COUNCIL SPEAKERS OFFICE • NYC HEALTH • PRAXIS • TREATMENT ACTION GROUP (TAG) • TRANSLATINA NETWORK • VILLAGECARE • VISUAL AIDS • VOCAL-NY • WYCKOFF HEIGHTS MEDICAL CENTER-PHM
People living with HIV/AIDS, and members of the Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force are available for interviews by calling Jennifer Flynn, VOCAL-NY, 917-517-5202, Jennifer@vocal-ny.org
Photos can be downloaded through: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vocal-ny/sets