Photo Courtesy of NY City Council/Emil Cohen
“As someone who is HIV positive, I’m proud to lead a council that has made the fight against AIDS/HIV a priority,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The annual number of new HIV diagnoses in the city has reached an all-time low, with 2,157 New Yorkers getting newly diagnosed last year, the de Blasio administration announced on Thursday.
And the number of new HIV diagnoses in the five boroughs has decreased by 64 percent since HIV case reporting began, City officials noted.
The estimated number of new HIV infections in NYC also continues to decline, with a 35-percent decrease among men who have sex with men and a 36-percent decrease overall since 2013, according to the City Health Department. Officials suggested that estimated new infections continue to decrease at a historic, accelerated pace due to a combination of prevention strategies (including HIV treatment, pre- and post- exposure prophylaxis), and NYC Condom distribution.
“Our city has been on the frontlines of the HIV and AIDS epidemic for decades,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Reaching our goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020 in New York City is a good start, but we won’t rest until we eradicate the epidemic once and for all.”
New diagnoses of HIV are falling across the state as well, while rates of enrollment in treatment for those diagnosed continues to climb, according to the Cuomo administration. New HIV diagnoses in the Empire State declined for a third consecutive year, reaching an all-time low of 2,769 in 2017, down 20 percent since 2014.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday proposed new regulations that will expand access to care for uninsured or underinsured people living with HIV. The State Department of Health will modify regulations governing the HIV Uninsured Care Programs to update income criteria and eliminate the assets test. Currently, to be eligible for the HUCP, an applicant’s household income must be equal to or less than 435 percent of the federal poverty level, and the applicant’s liquid resources must be less than $25,000. The new regulations, according to Cuomo, will increase eligible income to 500 percent of the federal poverty level and eliminate the cap on resources. The proposed regulations will be published in mid-December, with adoption anticipated in early 2019.
“As our fight to end the epidemic continues, these new regulations will ensure more individuals living with HIV have access to the care they need and in the process help stop further transmissions,” Cuomo added.
On Saturday, World AIDS Day, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who has lived with HIV for the last 14 years, said he’s “proud to lead a council that has made the fight against AIDS/HIV a priority.” Johnson also acknowledged that “the battle is far from over.”
“On World AIDS Day, we collectively remember those we lost and we mourn for what might have been,” he added. “We hold these 675,000 [Americans that have died since the start of the AIDS crisis] in our hearts; we will remember them, we will remember their struggle, and we will pledge that under our watch we won’t let this happen again. We will fight in their name for those still living with this disease.”