|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2007
Public Hospitals More Than Double HIV/AIDS Testing By Making It Routine Part of Medical Care
Rapid Testing Identifies More Cases
and Links HIV Positive Patients to Care Sooner
|HHC President Alan Aviles|
|(Photo by William Alatriste/New York City Council)
New York City - The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced that the city’s public hospitals tested nearly 134,000 patients during Fiscal Year 2007 – a 116 percent increase over the 62,023 tested two years ago before its hospitals and health centers began to expand the use of rapid HIV tests and to make HIV tests part of routine medical care for patients ages 13 to 64.
"We’ve dramatically increased our HIV/AIDS screening by offering HIV tests to patients in every emergency room and in many inpatient units and clinics. We’re now reaching more teens and young adults - the age group where half of all new HIV infections occur," said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. "By making testing available as a routine medical screening we can help overcome the stigma and barriers associated with the disease and reach more New Yorkers who may be HIV positive and not know it. That is why we’ve committed to further expansion of our testing program to reach 150,000 patients this fiscal year."
|(L-R) Council Speaker Christine Quinn, HHC President Alan Aviles, Gouverneur Executive Director Mendel Hagler, Council Member Robert Jackson|
|(Photo by William Alatriste/New York City Council)
The public hospital system has expanded rapid testing beyond AIDS centers and prenatal care clinics and now offers testing to patients who are hospitalized, to patients who are seeking care in hospital emergency rooms and in many out-patient clinics. HHC’s program expansion has been greatly supported by more than $14.5 million allocated by the New York City Council since FY05. In FY08, the Council allocated $5.6 million to HHC facilities to expand rapid HIV testing. HHC currently serves 19,000 HIV/AIDS patients - 20% of the nearly 100,000 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS in New York City.
"The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to be one of the greatest health challenges facing our City. Therefore, providing resources for HIV/AIDS prevention has become a major priority for the City Council," said Speaker Quinn. "Collaborating with numerous partners, like the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Council has allocated $13.4 million in this year’s budget to support New York City's HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Today’s news about the increase in HIV testing rates is strong evidence that increased availability of HIV testing is a significant tool for early detection and preventative care."
HHC’s 11 acute care hospitals are Designated AIDS Centers and offer specialized HIV care to all New Yorkers, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. New Yorkers who get their health care at HHC hospitals and health centers can obtain confidential, convenient HIV testing.
"Our clinics and hospitals often provide the first and only medical contact we have with some undiagnosed patients and routine rapid testing offers them an opportunity to quickly know their status so they can protect themselves and others," added HHC President Aviles.
HHC’s doctors, nurses and testing staff adopted innovative tools like educational videos, interactive touchscreen PCs and used New York State’s more flexible revised guidelines to reduce the times it takes for patients to be tested from 2 hours to about 30 minutes. This has facilitated more testing and frees up counselors to focus on providing support to the HIV positive patients who need them most.
"Using rapid HIV tests gives us the time to listen and demonstrate our compassion and understanding of our patients," said Sandra Burrell, an HHC HIV Counselor. "We provide immediate counseling to patients testing positive, and link them to follow-up care and life extending drug therapies."
HHC's HIV rapid testing program highlights:
- Identified over 1600 newly diagnosed HIV positive patients from FY05 to FY07
- Of the 134,00 tested this year, 54% are Black; 35% Hispanic, 5% White, 4% Other and 1% Asian
- Males represented 61% of the patients who tested HIV positive during FY07
HHC's HIV testing and treatment services are also supported by funding from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).
According to DOHMH, New York City remains the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. accounting for 14% of the country's AIDS-related deaths. An estimated 25,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV/AIDS, but do not know they are infected and more than 1,000 New Yorkers each year first learn they have HIV when they are already sick with AIDS. More than 20,000 New Yorkers living with HIV or AIDS are over the age of 50, and one-third of the new diagnoses annually are among women. HIV is the 3rd leading cause of death below age 65 in New York City.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $5.4 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers every year, and nearly 400,000 who are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based health centers. For more information about HHC, visit nyc.gov/hhc.