Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden today announced a permanent addition of $5 million to DOHMH's budget to fight HIV/AIDS in communities of color. The Mayor also announced that significant progress has been made in the City's fight against HIV/AIDS in the past year, including increased availability of rapid HIV testing at Department of Homeless Services intake sites, STD clinics, and Rikers Island and the establishment of syringe exchange programs in Queens. Several individuals and organizations that have performed exemplary work and service to help stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in New York City were also honored at a reception commemorating World AIDS Day at Gracie Mansion.
"On World AIDS Day, we reflect on the toll that this disease has taken on our City and redouble our efforts to fighting this epidemic," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We are committed to reducing the annual AIDS death rate by half by 2008 and this year, we are permanently adding $5 million to the Health Department's HIV prevention budget, which will go to programs serving those at highest risk. While this will help, the epidemic continues to have a profound impact on our City. Too many lives are affected, and too many people die prematurely. This World AIDS Day, we acknowledge the critical need to prevent HIV in women, who represent nearly a third of the City's people living with HIV/AIDS. I commend today's honorees and so many others, including our Commission on HIV/AIDS, who work tirelessly to stem the tide of this disease and serve as a model for the rest of the world."
"In the past year, we have made progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Commissioner Frieden. "We have made rapid HIV testing, which gives test results in about an hour, available in all of our STD clinics, to thousands of inmates at Rikers Island, and to men entering the homeless shelter system. This means more people will be able to know their HIV status and be able to better protect their own health, protect their partners, and stop the spread of HIV. Increased access to testing, expansion of syringe exchange programs and an additional $5 million in our HIV prevention budget for programs that work to stop HIV in communities of color indicate that we are making progress, although we still have a very long way to go. I would like to thank the Mayor for his support of these efforts and his staunch commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS."
Health Department Funding for HIV/AIDS in New York City
The Health Department received approximately $122 million from Ryan White Title I funding for treatment, and $33 million from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for HIV prevention,. City funding for HIV Prevention is currently $8.7 million.
Rapid HIV Testing
Rapid HIV testing is available at all of the City's ten walk-in STD clinics. From January 1 to October 31, 2004, 31,126 people were tested for HIV at City clinics, and nearly 500 people were newly diagnosed with HIV infection. Rapid testing has also been provided, as always on a voluntary, confidential basis, at Rikers Island which is now testing twice as many people, diagnosing more people with HIV, and linking them to care. In conjunction with the Department of Homeless Services, rapid testing is also being offered on a voluntary and confidential basis to men entering the homeless shelters.
Syringe Exchange Programs in Queens
Injecting drug use is one of the driving forces behind the HIV epidemic in New York City and nationally. There are estimated to be at least 150,000 injecting drug users (IDUs) in New York City. Last year, there were nine licensed syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in New York City, but none in Queens. Working closely with local health providers and community boards, other partners in the community and the New York State Department of Health, the first ever SEP was opened in Queens, in Long Island City, which has one of the highest proportion of IDUs living with HIV/AIDS. Three other programs have been supported by the community board for Jamaica, Queens and will open in the coming months. Queens now 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.
World AIDS Day Honorees and Events, 2004
For continued outstanding service to the City of New York particularly focusing on women, Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged the following individuals and organizations:
Kim Nichols, ScM., M.S., Executive Director of the African Services Center (ACS): ACS is dedicated to improving the health and self-sufficiency of the African Community and provides direct health, housing, social and legal services to more than 7,000 African immigrants each year, with particular emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and support.
Wafaa El-Sadr, M.D. M.P.H., Chief of Infectious Disease Division, Harlem Hospital: Dr. El-Sadr has developed an internationally renowned HIV program with a special emphasis on meeting the needs of women and substance abusers. She is also the Director of the MTCT plus Initiative, which aims to provide access to HIV care in resource limited countries to women living with HIV and their children.
Life Force: Under Executive Director Gwen Carter, Life Force's mission is to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and to support women and their families who are HIV positive or affected by AIDS. Life Force prepares and trains women to serve as peer/health educators and counselors in the community.
Montifiore Medical Center, AIDS and Adolescent Program: Led by Dr. Donna Futterman, the program was established in 1987 and is the oldest adolescent program in the country, serving roughly 340 HIV-positive youth between the ages of 13 and 24. It provides primary medical care, psychiatric care, group therapy, and outings, and has a research component.
Palladia, Inc.: This multi-service agency, led by Executive Director Jane Velez, has strived to help individuals and families whose problems stem from substance abuse, homelessness, HIV disease, mental illness, criminality and/or domestic violence. Services range from outreach, prevention and treatment through supportive, permanent housing.
Planned Parenthood of New York City, Joan Malin, CEO: Project Street Beat, a program of Planned Parenthood, provides practical and emotional support to individuals at high risk of HIV infection and targets women in communities that need HIV prevention services.
DOHMH Prevention Initiatives Targeted to Women and Girls
Because women with HIV experience unique barriers to health care, the City has women-focused initiatives that expand access:
Title I supports women-oriented programs with sites in all five boroughs that promote access to early intervention through outreach in communities and correctional settings.
Another Title I-funded program - based in Brooklyn but with Citywide reach - provides harm reduction, recovery readiness and relapse services for HIV-positive women who are involved in the criminal justice system.
In response to the growing burden of HIV/AIDS among women, the Planning Council approved for FY'05 a new women-focused ambulatory outpatient program (in addition to a similar women-focused program initiated in FY'04).
DOHMH provides financial support and technical assistance for 20 community based organizations with programs whose clients are exclusively or at least one-half women
Female clients served by the Department's HIV prevention CBO programs constitute approximately one-third of all clients served, a reflection of the proportion of females known to be living with HIV in New York City.
The Health Department's Bureau of HIV/AIDS operates a Female Condom Education and Distribution Project that partners with 70 community-based organizations for training on and distribution of female condoms to prevent transmission of HIV.
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 ten 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 ten STD clinics, located in each of the five boroughs, provide free services, including STD diagnosis and treatment, confidential or anonymous HIV testing, and hepatitis immunizations on a walk-in basis regardless of immigration status. For physicians, treatment guidelines and other STD information are available at nyc.gov/html/doh/html/std/std.html. Further information is available by calling 311, visiting nyc.gov/health or from your medical provider. DOHMH's latest quarterly HIV/AIDS surveillance report is available online at nyc.gov/html/doh/pdf/dires/dires-2004-report-qtr4.pdf.