Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Tim Murphy , December 06, 2013
Hundreds carried signs spelling out the different tools needed to end AIDS in NY.
On Sunday December 1, World AIDS Day 2013, hundreds of activists from Housing Works, GMHC, ACRIA, TAG, VOCAL-NY, ACT-UP NY, Bailey House, Boom!Health and more gathered in Times Square to deliver a clear message to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC mayor-elect Bill De Blasio: The city and state have the tools necessary to end AIDS in NY by 2020; now we need the political will and leadership to coordinate a plan to do it.
This video captures the best moments from the speeches at the rally, which were made by Housing Works CEO Charles King, GMHC interim CEO Janet Weinberg, ACT-UP’s Jim Eigo and Matthew Rodriguez, Bailey House CEO Gina Quattrochi, incoming Public Advocate Letitia James and NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, among others.
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“We’re calling on Governor Cuomo and Mayor-Elect De Blasio to work together to develop and implement a plan that would bring an end to the epidemic by 2020,” says Charles King in the video.
Says Letitia James: “We can’t sit idly by just because we elected Bill De Blasio. This is no time to become complacent.”
Many activists spoke of, and carried posters about, expanding state and city information and delivery of PEP, the “HIV morning-after” treatment to prevention infection after exposure, and of PrEP, the once-daily pill Truvada that can prevent HIV infection in high-risk individuals such as gay men, drug users, sex workers and transgender women.
Another key theme was the need to universalize both medical treatment and care for HIV+ and at-risk HIV- folks alike, as well as to make sure both populations had stable housing, drug and mental-health counseling, nutrition and other essential services that help prevent HIV infection in HIV-negative people and advancement to AIDS, illness and death in HIV+ people.
“Each day we see the effectiveness of people who are connected to services, housing, food, health services and medical care” in preventing these outcomes, said Janet Weinberg of GMHC.
Among those services, stable housing was highlighted. Quattrochi pointed out that people without stable housing were at high risk for both becoming HIV-infected and, once infected, for infecting others. “To end the AIDS epidemic, we have to make a concerted effort to end homelessness in New York City and and New York State,” she said.
Also featured is VOCAL-NY’s Reginald Brown, a Brooklyner living with HIV whose personal story reflects activists’ longtime demand that the city cap rent for HASA clients at 30 percent of their income; Brown was evicted from his apartment of 12 years because his rent was 70 percent of his disability check. “That’s not right,” he said.
At the end of the rally, Charles King tied together the memorial aspect of World AIDS Day with the political demands going forward: “Seven years from today, we’ll gather in a great day of celebration,” he said. “We’ll say to our loved ones that passed on that we kept the faith, we kept up the fight, and AIDS did not win.”
Activists are hoping that state and city leaders will publicly speak in early 2014 about a coherent plan to end AIDS in New York. Please follow the movement’s progress here at the Update.blog comments powered by Disqus
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