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Press Release # 116-05
Thursday, December 1, 2005

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (after hours or on weekends)
Sandra Mullin
Eric Riley


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Commemorates World AIDS Day at Gracie Mansion

NEW YORK CITY - December 1, 2005 - In 2004, 2.7 million NYC adults said they had ever been tested for HIV - 200,000 more than four years ago. This means more people know their status, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said today at an event commemorating World AIDS Day 2005. The Mayor also reaffirmed his strong commitment to fighting HIV in the City, alongside Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, community leaders and activists, and people living with HIV/AIDS. This year's World AIDS Day theme is Stopping AIDS. Keeping the Promise.

Several individuals and organizations were honored for outstanding service in the fight against HIV/AIDS, including:

  • Joseph Sonnabend, M.D., one of the first NYC physicians to treat PLWHAs and a founder of AIDS Medical Foundation (later AmFAR), Community Research Initiative, and PWA Health Group;
  • Barbara Starrett, M.D., recently retired; specialized in internal medicine treating hundreds of HIV positive patients since 1983;
  • Monica Sweeny, M.D., author of Condom Sense; a member of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; and the medical director of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center;
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, honored as the city's longest-serving AIDS service organization in New York City.

While progress has been made in expanding testing, increasing distribution of condoms and broadening support of syringe exchange programs, Commissioner Frieden emphasized that the challenges ahead - drastically reducing the spread of HIV, providing effective treatment and care for all who need it, and significantly improving control of the epidemic - remain critical.

"Too many New Yorkers are getting infected with - and dying from - HIV/AIDS," said Commissioner Frieden. "And too few people are being tested. Disparities persist in treatment. We need to do more to diagnose people who are infected and link them to care; stop spread of the virus; improve care and treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS; and improve evaluation and monitoring of our efforts. This approach will not be without costs or controversy - but the human and economic tolls of not doing so are far steeper. It is an urgent undertaking, and I thank the Mayor for his strong support."

Health Department Funding for HIV/AIDS in New York City

For the last fiscal year's funding cycle, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received approximately $118 million from Ryan White Title I funding for treatment, and an estimated $37 million from city funding and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for HIV prevention and surveillance. Approximately $8.7 million in City Council funding was also designated for other HIV prevention efforts. Additionally, the Health Department receives $47 million in federal funding to provide housing-related services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Rapid HIV Testing and Linkage to Care

Rapid HIV testing is available at all of the City's 10 walk-in STD clinics. In fiscal year 2005, DOHMH administered more than 62,000 HIV tests in its clinics (more than three-quarters of them using rapid-test technology); 3,400 tests through TB clinics; and 17,000 tests at Rikers Island. Rapid testing at all facilities has been provided, as always, on a voluntary, confidential basis. Recently, in conjunction with the Department of Homeless Services, rapid testing programs have been initiated on a voluntary and confidential basis to men and women entering certain homeless shelters.

In July 2005, the DOHMH's Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control issued an RFP for HIV prevention activities in communities of color. The initiative resulted in the DOHMH's selecting 18 organizations for contract awards, funded with most of the Mayor's $5 million baseline increase in HIV funding. Thirteen of these awards funded expansion of HIV rapid testing in these communities; the remaining five focused on condom distribution and other prevention activities.

Report of the New York City Commission on HIV/AIDS

In October 2005, the New York City Commission on HIV/AIDS - a panel of 21 individuals who serve as key policy advisors on HIV/AIDS issues - released its final report with recommendations on drastically reducing the spread of HIV in New York City. The Commission provides guidance on how New York City can improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of HIV/AIDS, as well as further strengthen the City's position as a national and global model for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. The report is available online at

Condom Distribution

The Health Department now distributes more than a million condoms each month. In June 2005, DOHMH launched a new free condom/lubricant initiative to widely distribute condoms to community-based organizations and other community partners throughout New York City. In the first five months since the launch, more than 500 community organizations ordered 6.7 million condoms through the Health Department's website.

Syringe Exchange Programs in Queens

Injecting drug use remains a critical factor in the HIV epidemic, with more than 150,000 injecting drug users (IDUs) in New York City. In 2004, four needle exchange programs were opened in Queens neighborhoods with high rates of IDUs with HIV/AIDS - the first to be opened in more than a decade. Queens has the benefit of a program that reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses, reduces crime and drug use, and increases enrollment in drug treatment programs. There are now a total of 12 SEPs Citywide.

Know Your HIV Status - A "Take Care New York" Priority

Knowing your HIV status is one of top ten priorities of Take Care New York - the City's comprehensive health policy. While HIV/AIDS deaths have declined greatly in the past 10 years, the disease remains the fifth leading cause of death among all New Yorkers and the leading cause of death for New Yorkers ages 25-44.

DOHMH's 10 STD clinics, located in each of the five boroughs, provide free rapid HIV tests on a walk-in basis regardless of immigration status. Further information is available by calling 311, visiting or from your medical provider. DOHMH's latest quarterly HIV/AIDS surveillance report is available online at