From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein
Date December 2, 2015
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
ECDOH Recognizes World AIDS Day
Time to “End the Epidemic”
ERIE COUNTY, NY—World AIDS Day 2015, observed yesterday, December 1, 2015, is focused on the opportunity to “End the Epidemic” by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are being left behind. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has affected people in every county of New York State; it affects young people and old, women and men, people of all nationalities, colors and sexual preferences.
“For the HIV community, the December 1st observance of World AIDS Day provides an unparalleled opportunity to bring wide attention to our collective response to the epidemic. We as a community need to continue our efforts in research, education and treatment to finally end this often overlooked crisis,” states Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.
“In the United States, there are approximately 50,000 people per year who are newly infected with HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) estimates that more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. What is most alarming is that almost 1 in 7 (14%) do not know they carry HIV and can be unknowingly spreading the virus to others. Another disturbing fact is that 1 out of 4 new HIV infections are among young adults (13-24 years old)” Burstein concluded.
On June 29, 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo detailed a three-point plan to move us closer to the end of the AIDS epidemic in New York State. New York is the first state in the nation, and the first jurisdiction in the world, to have a plan to end the epidemic. The goal is to reduce the number of new HIV infections to just 750 [from an estimated 3,000] per year by the end of 2020 and achieve the first ever decrease in HIV prevalence in New York State.
The three-point plan:
- Identifies persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and links them to health care.
- Links and retains persons diagnosed with HIV in health care to maximize virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission.
- Facilitates access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for persons engaged in high-risk behaviors to keep them HIV negative.
The plan includes:
- Expanding HIV testing so everyone knows their HIV status;
- Helping everyone with HIV get treatment to stay healthy and prevent transmission to others; and
- Expanding access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent new infections.
New York has already made great progress toward ending the epidemic, including these accomplishments:
- Eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission in 2013;
- Reducing new infections among drug users by 96% over the past 10 years; and
- Reducing new infections overall by almost 40% since 2004.
Burstein concluded: “We encourage everyone to follow these essential steps to help “end the epidemic”:
✔ Get an HIV test.
✔ Practice safer sex if you have more than one sexual partner, or you don't know your partner's HIV status.
✔ If you have HIV, get treatment to stay healthy and prevent transmission to others.
✔ Encourage friends or family members who may be living with HIV to stay in health care and take their medications.
✔ Talk to your children about HIV prevention.
✔ Take a stand against HIV stigma.
✔ Take a leadership role in your community by explaining to others the importance of HIV prevention.
The Erie County Department of Health provides free, confidential HIV screening and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) at their Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic at 608 William Street, Buffalo, NY, 14206. For additional information and hours, contact the clinic at 716-858-7687. In addition, residents can call the AIDS Hotline at 1-800-541-2437 (English) or 1-800-233-7432 (Spanish).
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