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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 044-13
Monday, December 2, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Jean Weinberg/Diane Hepps: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


Health Department Launches Texting Service to Link People Newly Diagnosed With HIV to Care

New HIV Data Report Shows New Diagnoses in New York City Have Decreased 40 Percent From 2002-2012

December 2, 2013 – At an event commemorating World AIDS Day, the Health Department today released a new annual HIV data report showing that over the past ten years, HIV diagnoses in New York City have decreased by 40 percent. Despite this progress, the report shows that 3,141 New Yorkers were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2012 and, of those, 20 percent already had AIDS when diagnosed. To assist those who are newly diagnosed with HIV obtain the medical and support services necessary to maintain their health, the Health Department announced a new mobile texting service called HIV Care. The service includes a suite of confidential options, such as medication and appointment reminders, that are available by texting CARE to 877877.

Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives and has been shown to decrease the spread of HIV to sexual partners by as much as 96 percent. Nationally, of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV today, nearly one in five do not know their status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One-third of those who are HIV infected are diagnosed so late that they develop AIDS within one year.

“Nearly 70 percent of adults in New York had been tested for HIV in 2012, which is a huge testament to the work being done by health care providers and community organizations to encourage people to know their status,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner. “However, getting tested to know your HIV status is just the first step in making sure that you stay healthy. If you find out that you are HIV positive, it is critical to both get into and stay in care. Discuss with your healthcare provider what the best treatment regimen is for you and adhere to it.”

Many studies have shown that simple technological interventions, such as a text reminder, can improve medication adherence and overall health, ultimately reducing HIV transmission among those greatest at risk. Appointment reminders, refill reminders, motivational messages, and information on health education workshops, are among the confidential services being offered through the new texting service. Resources for New York City residents who are not currently HIV-infected, but who may be at-risk for HIV, will also be available through the texting service, including where to locate HIV testing services.

A key goal for all people who are living with HIV is to have an undetectable viral load, which means that the virus is at very low levels in the body. This measure is most often used by health providers to assess how well medications are working. Of the 72,918 HIV-diagnosed New York City residents who received care for their infection in 2012, 76 percent had evidence that the virus was “suppressed” by medications to undetectable levels. The Health Department encourages all people living with HIV to discuss starting antiretroviral therapy with their health providers as soon as they make their connection to care.

As part of the city’s World AIDS Day activities, Brooklyn Knows and the Kaiser Family Foundation have partnered to release a local version of the national Greater Than AIDS campaign, as “Brooklyn is Greater Than AIDS.” At least three different videos will premiere before featured movies at two Brooklyn locations from November 29-January 2nd. Brooklyn Knows HIV testing partners will also offer testing in mobile vans outside the theater. Brooklyn Knows is New York City’s second borough-wide HIV testing initiative (following The Bronx Knows) and one of the largest HIV testing efforts in the country. Brooklyn Knows, which was launched on World AIDS Day 2010, set a goal to conduct 580,000 HIV tests over four years. After less than three full years of the initiative, 79 percent of this testing goal has been met, with Brooklyn Knows partners conducting 456,977 HIV tests. Of these, 1,507 tests were positive, and more than three quarters of those who have been newly diagnosed through the initiative have been reported as linked to care. 

To view the annual data report, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/data/epi-reports.shtml#quarterly

For more information on the HIV Care text service, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/care.shtml

For more information on HIV, visit nyc.gov.