Thousands Flock to Times Square for 25th Annual World AIDS Day
On Sunday, December 1, World AIDS Day, Housing Works, GMHC, ACRIA, ACT-UP New York, and an estimated 1,000 members of the New York HIV/AIDS community will converge on Times Square to commemorate the 25th annual World AIDS Day and declare that now is the time to end AIDS, which is at epidemic proportions in New York State.
"We may have just turned the tide here in New York State," explains Charles King, president and CEO of Housing Works. "The HIV/AIDS community will come together on December 1 to further advocate for the development and implementation of a plan to end AIDS as an epidemic herein New York by the year 2020!"
Since the first reports in 1981 of the disease, New York has made great progress, including reducing newly diagnosed AIDS cases by 79 percent between 1993 and 2010, lowering the number of new infections per year by 37 percent between 2002 and 2010, and reducing the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injecting drug use by 78 percent between 2002 and 2010.
But HIV still poses a significant threat to the health of New Yorkers: 130,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV; 80,000 have an AIDS diagnosis. Every day, 11 New Yorkers are diagnosed with HIV and nearly 5 New Yorkers with AIDS die. And a shocking 79 percent of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in NYS are people of color.
Now is the time to end the AIDS epidemic! Local ASOs are gathering advocates, health and social service providers, researchers and government representatives on December 1 -- World AIDS Day -- to take action to end the AIDS epidemic in New York. This coalition will demand an end to the epidemic through: (1) a commitment to rigorous testing; (2) comprehensive prevention education; (3) access to care; and (4) social justice actions.
"The beginning of AIDS activism was in the communities hit hardest by the epidemic and that tradition continues to this day," said Mathew Rodriguez, a member of ACT UP New York and Editorial Project Manager at TheBody.com. "Our communities must demand a clear plan to end the AIDS epidemic, just as we demanded medications for those living with HIV, before a second wave of the AIDS epidemic claims another generation of young gay men and transgender women. We have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic, and we demand they be used."
"While we don't yet have a cure or a vaccine, we do have highly-effective treatment to keep those with HIV healthy and alive; indeed, to a near-normal lifespan," said Daniel Tietz, Executive Director, AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA). "And that same treatment reduces the risk of transmission to others, and can prevent HIV infection when taken by those at high-risk. What we need now is a commitment to provide the necessary resources to end the epidemic."
Speakers include: Charles King, Housing Works; Janet Weinberg, GMHC; Dan Teitz, ACRIA; elected officials and others to be announced.
"We can achieve an AIDS-free generation," said Weinberg, Interim Chief Executive Officer/Chief Operating Officer of GMHC. "But do we have the political will to do so? Today, we spend the same amount of money on prevention for people who are HIV as we did in 2002. Each day we see the remarkable effectiveness of connecting people newly diagnosed with HIV to care immediately after they learn their HIV status. How can we sustain these results without a commitment to dedicated funding that includes medical care, mental health services and other wrap around programs?"
Additional guest speakers include Johanne Moore of NYSDOH AIDS Institute; Gina Quattrochi of Bailey House; Gale Brewer, NYC Council Member and Manhattan Borough President-elect; Jim Eigo, longtime member of ACT UP featured in "How to Survive a Plague," and Mathew Rodriguez, Editorial Project Manager at The Body.com; Johnny Guaylupo of Housing Work; and Joey Lopez of Ali Forney Center.
Partners for the events include Housing Works, GMHC, ACRIA, and ACT-UP New York. Con-endorsers include the Treatment Action Group (TAG), American Run to End AIDS (AREA), iHealth, Bailey House, Boom!Health, Harlem United, AIDS Service Center of NY (ACS), AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC), Argus Community, APICHA Community Health Center, AIDS Council of NY, ACR Health, Diaspora Community Services, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), Narco Freedom, Village Care, Iris House, Planned Parenthood NYC, Long Island Association for AIDS Care, HELP Project Samaritan, HeartShare Human Services of NY, Community Health Action of Staten Island, Lower Eastside Harm Reduction Center (LESHRC), Home Care NY, NADAP, Salvation Army Tri Care Systems, Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk County (EOC-Suffolk), and Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC).
The event begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1 at Times Square, Seventh Ave. between 45th and 46th Streets. For more information, visit www.housingworks.org/WAD