Just hours before more than 1 million people are expected to gather in the streets of New York City to celebrate gay rights in the 45th annual pride parade on Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a plan to end the AIDS epidemic and reduce HIV infections in the state.
Laid out in three parts, the Democrat's plan, "Bending the Curve" focuses on improving testing of the disease, treating those who are infected, and preventing the spread of the infection:
1. Identifying persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care.
2. Linking and retaining persons diagnosed with HIV to health care and getting them on anti-HIV therapy to maximize HIV virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission.
3. Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk persons to keep them HIV negative.
According to the plan, by 2020, the number of people living with HIV will be reduced for the first time and will save the state an additional $317 million and prevent more than 3,400 new cases of HIV.
"Thirty years ago, New York was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis -- today I am proud to announce that we are in a position to be the first state in the nation committed to ending this epidemic,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The number of new HIV infections has been steadily decreasing. So far this year, there have been 3,000 people diagnosed with HIV, down from 14,000 newly diagnosed AIDS cases in 1993. By 2020, the hope is to bring that number down to 750 cases.
According to the governor's announcement, New York has eliminated HIV transmission via blood products, virtually ended mother to child HIV transmission, and decreased new HIV diagnoses due to injection drug use by 96% since the mid-1990s.
Key policies in the "Bending the Curve” plan that have already been enacted this year in the budget include being able to get an HIV test without the requirement for written informed consent, the ability to find people with HIV who are not receiving health care, and a way to keep people with the infection housed with a 30% cap of the proportion of an HIV patient’s income for rent.
"This step by Governor Cuomo, setting a clear goal to end the AIDS crisis in New York State, is absolutely courageous," Housing Works CEO Charles King said. "In doing so, the Governor is reshaping the way we think about the AIDS epidemic and is setting a new standard for leaders of other jurisdictions in the United States and, indeed, around the world."