December 1, 2021
NEW YORK — Today Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor-Elect Eric Adams recommitted to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by video ahead of the World AIDS Day community forum held in NYC. The community forum follows a NYC rally and march by VOCAL-NY and activists, and a press conference by the Albany chapter of VOCAL-NY, both calling on lawmakers to reinvigorate work to support those living with HIV, namely with supportive housing and services.
VOCAL-NY is specifically calling for the following actions to end the epidemic:
Include at least $10 Million in the New York State budget for funding to provide support and resources for those living with HIV across the state.
Reintroduce and pass the Point of Access To House (PATHS) legislation, which provides access to affordable housing for income-eligible New Yorkers living with HIV statewide.
“Governor Hochul and Mayor-Elect Eric Adams recommitting the city and state of New York to the Blueprint to End AIDS as an epidemic is a promising move forward for vulnerable people across our state,” said Jawanza Williams, VOCAL-NY’s Director of Organizing, who is also living with HIV. “We’re glad our elected officials continue to follow the leadership of the AIDS community. We are especially here for our upstate family that have been left behind for far too long, and we must expand AIDS Housing statewide.”
“Overdose Prevention Centers being launched in NYC is an incredibly vital step toward ending the AIDS epidemic in New York City,” said Luke Grandis, VOCAL-NY’s Upstate Lead Organizer. “Now we need Governor Hochul and the state legislature to follow-up by passing the Safer Consumption Services Act to bring Overdose Prevention Centers statewide and use every evidence-based solution we have to save lives, end overdose, and to end AIDS in New York State once and for all.”
“I had HASA when I lived in New York City and had no idea that I wasn’t going to have any form of rental assistance upon moving across the border to Westchester County. We will only be able to end the AIDS epidemic when we take the appropriate steps to end the two-tiered healthcare system for HIV+ New Yorkers”, said Linda Beal, a leader with the Westchester Chapter of VOCAL-NY.
“I believe housing assistance is vital and a privilege of all the living,” said Kortlin Qoen, a New York City leader with VOCAL-NY’s Positive Leaders Union. “I myself am living with HIV, and struggle with the inhuman side effects of the stigma. We deserve better.”
In 2014, former Governor Cuomo announced a plan to end the AIDS epidemic in NYS, primarily developed by people living with HIV, AIDS Service providers, and AIDS advocacy organizations in formation known as the Ending the Epidemic Task Force in partnership with the NYS Department of Health. Dozens of organizations, including organizations like Housing Works, VOCAL-NY, and Legal Action Center have advocated for years to implement the policy proposals through the Ending the Epidemic (ETE) coalition.
After facing growing pressure from the organizing and advocacy community, Governor Cuomo took action to adopt the recommendations and follow the leadership of people living with HIV. But the Blueprint’s policy recommendations have not been fully implemented, with notable consequences as recent as the 2020 HIV cluster in Monroe county.
People living with HIV, in particular low-income communities outside of the five boroughs, need the state of New York to recommit to ending the AIDS epidemic and fully implementing the Blueprint to End AIDS.
Mariah McGough, email@example.com, 203 470 9979