New York City & New York State Advocacy
NYC & NYS ADVOCACY OVERVIEW
Housing Works has dedicated itself to advocating on behalf of the 154,000 New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. We’ve done so primarily by maintaining a robust presence in both New York City and in Albany. Our advocacy efforts help ensure that New York provides housing and related supportive services to low-income and homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. When the state legislature is in session, our clients and staff visit weekly with state leaders on a range of issues, from the equitable application of statewide AIDS housing subsidies to equal rights for transgender New Yorkers to condom access. At the city level, we closely track the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), the city agency charged with overseeing subsidies for poor New Yorkers with AIDS, and we push for improvements of HASA services. Every year, we doggedly lobby the mayor and city council to make the best funding decisions around HIV prevention and care, especially for those at risk: drug users, transgender people, people of color, the poor, the homeless, and those with mental illnesses. Sometimes our lobbying takes the form of rallies, protests, and creative civil disobedience actions.
AIDS-FREE NY 2020 CAMPAIGN
Governor’s Commitment to State Plan to End the Epidemic
In June 2013, a coalition of over 30 New York organizations, among them LGBT and AIDS advocacy and service-provider groups, asked Governor Andrew Cuomo to revitalize and strengthen the AIDS Institute, and in January 2014, we called upon the Governor again to publicly declare a plan to end AIDS in New York and to appoint a high-level Task Force to develop the strategic roadmap and plan to get us there.
On June 29, 2014, coinciding with NYC Gay Pride, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made history by committing New York State to ending AIDS as an epidemic by the year 2020. (Click here to see the full press release issued by the Governor’s office.) With this announcement, New York, the epicenter of the nation’s HIV epidemic since the beginning, is the first jurisdiction anywhere in the world to launch an effort to end our AIDS epidemic, even without a cure, by stopping deaths from HIV disease and eliminating new HIV infections.
Housing Works and other politicians, city officials, and AIDS and LGBT coalition partners—among them New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, as well as leaders from Treatment Action Group (TAG), Housing Works, NYC HRA, Harlem United, GMHC, VOCAL-NY, UNAIDS, and ACT UP NY—gathered the same morning in Midtown Manhattan for a press conference to praise the Governor’s announced plan and to offer up our collective responses and preliminary ideas on the objectives and action steps needed to make this ambitious plan a reality. (A video of the full roster of speakers from the press conference follows below.)
A Framework for Ending AIDS in New York State by 2020
Recent scientific findings indicate early HIV treatment can reduce new transmissions of the virus by 96% and that two anti-HIV drugs given together, when taken daily as prevention, can reduce new infections by over 90%.
During 2013 and 2014, with the support of Housing Works and a coalition of other HIV/AIDS, health-care, advocacy, and public-policy organizations, New York State successfully negotiated substantial rebates on HIV treatments from companies manufacturing drugs that make up nearly 75% of the market in the state.
New York has the people, institutions, resources, and tools needed to end AIDS as an epidemic and Governor Cuomo’s Bending the Curve plan shows the way forward for other jurisdictions around the country and around the world.
Convening of State End-AIDS Task Force
In mid-October 2014, the Governor’s Office took the next step toward an end to the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020 a step closer to reality, announcing a multi-stakeholder Ending the Epidemic Task Force to map out the details of the State Plan. Housing Works President & CEO Charles King and NY DOH Office of Public Health Deputy Commissioner Guthrie Birkhead were appointed as Task Force co-chairs. The rest of the Task Force is comprised of over 50 individuals representing organizations and groups from across the diverse spectrum of AIDS/HIV stakeholders in New York, including the Latino Commission on AIDS, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), ACT UP NY, Treatment Action Group (TAG), the NYC Human Resources Administration (NYC HRA), NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), and the New York Academy of Medicine. (A full list of the Task Force members can be found in the press release from the Governor’s Office here.)
The Task Force’s primary mandate will be to deliver a comprehensive plan with concrete recommendations to end the AIDS epidemic, including budgeting, benchmarks, and metrics, to DOH & the Governor’s Office by the end of January 2015, and most of its work will be accomplished via four subcommittees on prevention, care, data, and housing and supportive services. The first meeting of the Task Force is taking place today Tuesday, October 14, at the Troy Hilton Garden Inn from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Four subsequent Task Force meetings will follow through the end of the year, and the locations will alternate between the Capital Region and New York City. The meetings will be made public and are viewable via webcast at http://www.governor.ny.gov/. A series of Task Force-led community listening sessions are taking place during November 2014. (For info on registering for one of the listening sessions, click here.)
THE STATE OF OUR STATE
Tremendous strides have been made in HIV prevention and treatment in New York over the past three decades. In 1993 at the height of the epidemic, 15,000 New Yorkers were newly diagnosed with HIV. In 2012, that number of new annual infections had shrunk to 3,400. Likewise, New York State is way ahead of the nation as a whole in terms of the number of people living with HIV who have undetectable HIV viral loads (also called “viral suppression”), meaning that they are getting the full benefits of the treatment they need to keep the virus under control, stay healthy, and prevent transmitting the virus to others. Of 154,000 New Yorkers living with HIV, 44% are undetectable. (By contrast, the corresponding national percentage is much lower; of the 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS, only about 25% have undetectable HIV viral loads.)
Despite this progress, much work needs to be done. To truly end AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020, we need to lower the number of annual new infections from 3,400 to 700 or less, and the percentage of people living with HIV who have achieved and maintain undetectable status needs to reach or exceed 80%.
The Care Continuum (Treatment Cascade) & Trends in New HIV Infections in NY
The HIV continuum of care (also called the HIV treatment cascade) is an estimate of the number of individuals living with HIV in New York who are engaged in the care spectrum from diagnosis through HIV viral suppression. The continuum of care provides a framework for policy makers and stakeholders to focus efforts to improve retention in HIV care, the use of antiretrovirals and effective treatment adherence resulting in optimal viral suppression.
NY CAMPAIGN GOALS: OUR STRATEGY
We commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership and continue to urge the creation of a multi-stakeholder Task Force to map out the details of the State Plan.
The end goal of the AIDS-FREE NY 2020 campaign is:
- to reduce annual new HIV infections from roughly 3,400 to under 700 by the year 2020.
NY POLICY PRIORITIES & PARTNERSHIPS
At Housing Works, we strongly believe ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York will rely on five related next steps:
- Biomedical Interventions, including PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), for both HIV-negative and HIV-positive persons
- A Shared Commitment between government and all New York communities, via a multi-stakeholder Task Force to map out the budget and implementation steps for the State Plan.
Help us advocate for the rights of all people living with HIV/AIDS