AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS


Posted by Tim Murphy , October 31, 2013


Cordero (left) and Davila of Boom!Health: ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion alone won’t keep all NYers with HIV healthy, undetectable and untransmissable.

[Editors note: Please email Tim Murphy, the current editor of the Housing Works update, with feedback or leads on stories.]

Recently, we reported that Housing Works has been a part of a community campaign calling for a plan to end AIDS as an epidemic in New York State. A working paper, written primarily by Housing Works and Treatment Action Group, is circulating among HIV and healthcare policymakers in New York State. It breaks into components a plan to end AIDS as an epidemic in New York State. Each week in the Update, we have been looking at each of those components more closely.

This week, we focus on Component 4 of the Working Paper: Assuring the availability of essential services to support health, prevention and rentention in care for all New Yorkers, whether HIV-positive or -negative. Our guest commenters this week are the Bronx’s Robert Cordero and Jose Davila, who in August merged their respective agencies, Citiwide Harm Reduction and Bronx AIDS Services, to form Boom!Health.

Boom! is an $11.3-million, groundbreaking new service model that aims to remove barriers to accessing primary medical care, as well as HIV and viral hepatitis prevention services, while supporting clients on their journey towards wellness and self sufficiency.

Just last week, Boom! launched a new social marketing ad campaign on 60 MTA buses and multiple subway stops to encourage Bronx residents to know their HIV and hepatitis C status by getting tested and engaging in treatment. The Bronx-based nonprofit provides comprehensive prevention, health, housing, legal and wellness services for over 8,000 New Yorkers.

Here’s what Cordero and Davila have to say about providing essential services to New Yorkers with, or at risk for HIV/AIDS, as a key component of ending the AIDS epidemic in New York State. (And FYI, Cordero was Housing Works’ indefatigable director of federal advocacy from 2004 to 2007.):

“Here in New York State, the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion alone will not assure that all people living with HIV will be able to stay healthy, with undetectable viral loads and hence untransmissable virus—or that all those at risk of HIV will be able to avoid getting it.

Meeting these goals requires addressing a cluster of health, behavioral and structural issues. Homelessness, hunger and other unmet subsistence needs are powerful barriers to effective HIV prevention and care. New York City and State have been leaders in providing resources for housing and nutrition, but to date, these supports have been limited to persons with a diagnosis of AIDS or other advanced HIV disease. Eliminating new HIV infections and retaining in care all New Yorkers with HIV will require expanded reliance on the Ryan White CARE Act, HOPWA and New York State- and City-funded enabling services, as well as comprehensive prevention, care and treatment for important co-illnesses such as depression, diabetes, drug use, mental health, trauma, and hepatitis A, B and C.

Affordable and sustainable housing and food security are essential components of an effective HIV response. Clean needles, harm reduction and opiate substition therapy are essential as well.

Other approaches can also play a role in ending AIDS, such as decriminalizing the carrying of condoms, non-viloilent drug violations, and adult consensual sex work, and steps to reduce the burden of incarceration and correctional-system involvement for young men.

Research should be supported to determine optimal ways to deliver HIV prevention, treatment and supportive services. New York State has some of the world’s foremost research institutions, which must work with government, providers and affected communities to document the best practices for HIV surveillance, prevention, treatment and supportive care.”

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