April 1, 2011
The Hudson Pride Connection team hopes to promote HIV awareness and raise $15,000 from this year's New York AIDS Walk. The May 15 event in Central Park is being organized by Gay Men's Health Crisis. In last year's walk, the HPC team raised $9,000 for HIV/AIDS services, said Nancy Camaño, its executive director.
HPC focuses its outreach efforts on "young gay men, women of color -- regardless of sexual orientation -- and transgender women," Camaño said. "We hire people from those three communities to find out who is HIV-positive and link them into care." HPC gives people travel vouchers to the Center for Comprehensive Care on Garfield Avenue, which is not easily accessible by public transportation.
"Unfortunately the number of recorded cases continues to rise nationally and especially here in Hudson County among the heterosexual female African-American community," said Marvin Krieger, director of Hudson County's HIV/AIDS Planning Council.
Of county AIDS cases, 38 percent are African-American, though the county's population is only 15 percent African American. Of African-American HIV cases in the county, 45 percent are women. Hispanics comprise 35 percent of the county's population and 39 percent of its AIDS cases.
IV drug use has declined locally, and so has the proportion of HIV infections linked to IDU -- from 51 percent of cases about 20 years ago to 20 percent now, said Krieger. Reasons include "better education about IV drug use and outreach," he said, noting a needle-exchange program launched about 18 months ago.
"We need education in the schools, and parents need to be open and honest with their children," Krieger said. "Too often, they talk to their children about not getting pregnant, but they don't look at what's even more devastating than getting pregnant."