AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS

World AIDS Day 2016 at the NYC AIDS Memorial

Posted by Elizabeth Koke , December 02, 2016

World AIDS Day 2016 at the NYC AIDS Memorial

On World AIDS Day, we joined forces with the New York City AIDS Memorial Board of Directors and representatives, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the New York State Department of Health, and the rest of the END AIDS NY 2020 Coalition to host a public dedication of the newly completed New York City AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle. Over 600 community members filled the park and Greenwich Avenue to participate in the event.

The program, which was emceed by Broadway star Billy Porter, featured remarks from Mayor de Blasio, cheif counsel to Governor Cuomo Alphonso David, NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, and New York Senator Brad Hoylman as well as words from community members, musical performances by Lillias White and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and poetry readings from Kamilah Aisha Moon and Timothy DuWhite.

Porter opened the program with a moment of silence for all those who died of AIDS at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and for all of the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who devoted so much time caring for loved ones. Later in the program attendees were encouraged to participate in a round of chants, led by ACT UP, in recognition of nearly 30 years of activism. Housing Works President and CEO Charles King received cheers and applause when we greeted the crowd with a proclamation of “Today is a great day to end AIDS.” Housing Works co-founder and senior policy advisor Ginny Shubert was honored by the NYC Department of Health for her work.

Before and after the program, community members observed the tradition of reading aloud the names of those we have lost to AIDS.

While it was a day for remembrance at the site of the beautiful new memorial, it was also a day of renewed energy for our future goals. World AIDS Day marks another year closer to achieving our goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State. Following the program, Governor Cuomo’s office released a press release announcing new commitments towards the ETE plan. On Monday, the Ending the Epidemic program bill was signed into effect which will streamline HIV testing and remove barriers to accessing treatment and prevention options for youth and those most at risk for HIV. Today, on World AIDS Day, Governor Cuomo also formally set the goal of achieving zero AIDS mortality, and zero HIV transmission through injection drug use by 2020. To achieve these goals, a “sentinel event response” will be launched, which has previously been successful in addressing mother-to-child HIV transmission. Other initiatives include requiring all service providers to track viral suppression rates of their clients, and expanding access to PEP and PrEP for youth. The Governor also called upon the federal government to authorize $45 million in Medicaid matching funds for ending the epidemic programs through an amendment to the Partnership Plan Waiver.

Housing Works is grateful to all of their New York State and National coalition partners, for the support of our elected officials, and proud that we are well on our way to ending the AIDS epidemic.

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