Harlem United on World AIDS Day 2016: Celebrate. Fight. Never Forget.

On December 1, Harlem United joined hundreds of New Yorkers to commemorate World AIDS Day 2016 at the new AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle, which honors the over 100,000 people who have died from AIDS-related complications in New York City since 1981. Harlem United client Sean Chennault (pictured right next to Harlem United CEO Jacqui Kilmer) was among those who read the names of those lost to the epidemic prior to the ceremony.

Immediately after the ceremony concluded, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released a statement calling on the federal government to authorize $45 million in Medicaid matching funds to help achieve his plan to end AIDS in New York State by 2020 and celebrating milestone accomplishments, including:

  • Zero cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission in New York over the past 18 months;
  • An increase in the number of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS who achieved viral suppression, from 71,000 in 2013 to 77,000 in 2014;
  • The announcement at the recent 21st International AIDS Conference that New York leads the nation in the percent of at-risk individuals on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The Governor also celebrated landmark legislation he recently signed into law that will increase access to HIV/AIDS testing and treatment by:

  • Eliminating barriers to HIV testing through extending the requirement to offer it to persons beyond the current upper age limit of 64;
  • Increasing access to STD care by allowing registered nurses to screen for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia;
  • Increasing access to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) by allowing pharmacists to dispense up to a seven-day “starter kit”;
  • Allowing the disclosure of HIV/AIDS related medical information to approved researchers, which will eliminate barriers in HIV/AIDS research.

“On behalf of the over 15,000 New Yorkers served by Harlem United, I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for the incredible progress achieved in his plan to end AIDS by 2020,” said Jacqui Kilmer, Harlem United’s CEO. “We were honored to partner with the New York State Coalition to End AIDS to help pass this legislation. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Governor and legislature to ensure that New Yorkers living with or at high risk for HIV/AIDS receive the support and care they need, from safe, stable, and affordable housing, to comprehensive and preventative physical and mental health care.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced new initiatives to advance the fight to end AIDS by 2020, including setting a goal of zero AIDS mortality and zero HIV transmission through injection drug use, as well as ensuring that teens have the right to obtain HIV-prevention tools like PrEP and PEP and life-saving treatment if they test positive, without requiring parental consent.

“For decades, Harlem United has been at the forefront of applying successful harm reduction strategies like syringe exchange to prevent new injection drug-related HIV infections,” continued Kilmer. “In fact, we now distribute over 200,000 clean syringes and collect and safely destroy over 125,000 used syringes. We are also committed to leading and implementing the next stage in harm reduction, Supervised Injection Facilities (SIFs), which are proven to not only further decrease new HIV infections, but also reduce injection drug use-related overdoses and deaths.”

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