Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Tim Murphy , August 22, 2013
Last Thursday, more than 30 members of the veteran activist group ACT UP NY, out of which Housing Works grew in the early 1990s, protested in front of NYC’s Department of Health (DOH) building in Queens. The activists were demanding that DOH launch a public information campaign about PEP, which is the practice of taking HIV meds for 30 days after possible HIV exposure to avoid getting the infection, and of PrEP, which is the practice of taking the HIV med Truvada daily to block HIV infection.
Such practices are generally available through city emergency rooms, health centers and private doctors, but most New Yorkers don’t know about them.
Last month, ACT UP NY protested in front of Mt. Sinai hospital after its emergency room staffers allegedly initially turned away a gay men who came in asking for PEP after being possibly sexually exposed to HIV. It is important to start PEP as soon as one can after possible HIV exposure.
According to coverage of last week’s protest in Out magazine, the DOH has said it will launch a public info campaign about PEP and PrEP. Today, a DOH rep told us that DOH staffers had met with ACT UPers and that DOH was in the “early stages” of creating a PEP/PrEP info campaign that it would mount via its “funded agencies, locations frequented by at-risk populations, including young gay and bisexual men, and on the Health Department’s website.”
DOH has not yet clarified if that means it doesn’t intend to put the campaign in subways and bus shelters and on billboards—the places where the greatest number of people would see it. ACT UP is demanding a broad campaign of that sort.
ACT UP also protested what it says is a lack of detailed data from DOH on HIV rates and HIV-status-awareness rates in men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, the two groups in the city with the highest rates of HIV.
“We’ve been told they have more information that what they’ve been publicly showing,” said ACT UP’s Reed Vreeland. “And if they don’t have better data, they need to make sure they do.”blog comments powered by Disqus
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