NEW YORK STATE (October 16, 2014) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the formation of a Task Force that will work to implement the plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York.
The Task Force – whose work will be supplemented by two advisory groups in the near future – will support the effort to reduce the number of new HIV infections to 750 per year by 2020. Together, all three groups will consist of experts and community advocates from across New York and will perform public outreach and awareness campaigns in line with the Governor’s plan.
“HIV/AIDS has plagued families across this State for too long, and together we are going to put an end to this epidemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “This disease can impact people from all walks of life, and the sooner society realizes that, the sooner we can end the stigma that keeps too many people from getting tested and treated. I want to thank all who have joined us to implement this plan so far – their contributions are helping to save lives in virtually every corner of our State.”
The three key groups charged with ending the epidemic are:
- 1. A Task Force, which has been established in support of Governor Cuomo’s three-point plan and will develop and issue recommendations as well as draft New York’s blueprint to end the epidemic. Four subcommittees will focus specifically on prevention, care, data, and housing and supportive services (members are listed below);
- 2. The Public Official Advisory Group, which will be made up of state and local public officials with significant interest and experience in HIV and AIDS who will be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the task force; and
- 3. The Public Awareness Ambassadors will be active LGBT and AIDS awareness advocates that will help raise awareness, promote the Governor’s plan, and reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Members of the Public Official Advisory Group and the Public Awareness Ambassadors will be announced at a later date.
The end of the AIDS epidemic in New York will occur when the total number of new HIV infections has fallen below the number of HIV-related deaths. In June, Governor Cuomo announced a three-point plan to decrease new HIV infections to the point where the number of people living with HIV in New York State is reduced for the first time by:
- 1. Identifying people with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
2. Linking and retaining people 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; and
3. Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk people to keep them HIV negative.
“These efforts will maximize the availability of life-saving, transmission-interrupting treatment for HIV, saving lives and improving the health of New Yorkers,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D. “They will move us from a history of having the worst HIV epidemic in the country to one where new infections will be rare and those living with the disease will have normal lifespans with few complications.”
While the nation as a whole has seen no decrease in the number of HIV diagnoses, over the last decade, New York State has achieved a 40 percent reduction in new HIV cases and significant decreases in HIV incidence across almost all categories of race, ethnicity, gender, age and risk. Although the number of new HIV infections has been declining for a number of years, the total number of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS has continued to increase. This is because people with HIV can now live a normal life span and the number of HIV/AIDS deaths is also decreasing.
The Governor’s task force will meet on five occasions. All meetings will be made public and viewable via webcast on the governor’s website at http://www.governor.ny.gov/. The first meeting was held from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at the Troy Hilton Garden Inn; subsequent meetings will alternate between the Capital Region and New York City.
Sir Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation said, "Governor Cuomo understands that HIV/AIDS is an issue of justice and equality, and to end AIDS we need to end the stigma. With the establishment of this task force, Governor Cuomo continues to lead the way towards an end of AIDS, and position the State of New York as a global leader in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment."