Housing Works Responds to NYC DOH Report on Annual HIV Incidence With Demand to Restore AIDS Funding Cuts

With the release of disturbing new statistics about the annual incidence of HIV infections in New York City, Housing Works is reiterating its demand that New York State and City government restore millions in cuts to programs that prevent the spread of HIV in New York and provide lifesaving services to those living with the disease. Today, the New York City Department of Health released information that 4,800 New York City residents were infected with HIV in 2006, an overwhelming majority of whom were men who have sex with men and people of color. The new HIV incidence means that 72 out of every 100,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV/AIDS, a figure that is an astonishing three times higher than the national rate of 23 infections per 100,000.

The NYC DOH's statistics come hot on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control's revised estimate showing that 40 percent more Americans get HIV annually than previously thought. The CDC revised its annual infection estimate from approximately 40,000 to 56,300 earlier this month. Despite these statistical wake-up calls about the seriousness of the New York's HIV/AIDS epidemic, both New York City and New York State have persisted in making shockingly deep cuts to AIDS programs in the last three months.

"New York legislators including Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Quinn and Governor Paterson are talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand they say they want to test more people with HIV while on the other hand they are cutting testing and other resources that will keep people alive. They need to get real about what it will take to end the AIDS epidemic in New York, particularly among poor people, people of color and men who have sex with men. Until then, New York legislators are going to continue to be embarrassed by reports like the one the Department of Health released today," said Housing Works President and CEO Charles King.

New York City's AIDS organization have begun a spirted fight to push back against government neglect of AIDS services. Two weeks ago, the newly formed AIDS Budget Action Coalition, the brainchild of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, gathered some 150 people representing dozens of the city's AIDS groups for a protest outside of Gov. Paterson's Manhattan office. "I think Paterson and other legislators can expect to see a lot more angry faces outside of their offices in the coming months unless they stop trying to solve economic woes on the backs of people living with HIV," King said.

An abbreviated list of recent AIDS funding cuts by New York State and New York City:

  • $1 million in cuts from New York State funding for HIV testing, prevention and counseling programs

  • A six percent, or $1.5 million cut, to New York's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which pays for expensive AIDS medications for poor people living with HIV/AIDS

  • $500 million in state cuts to Medicaid; a majority of people living with HIV/AIDS in New York State depend on Medicaid for medical coverage

  • $6 million cut in total New York City cuts to HIV/AIDS and harm reduction services

  • $1 million cut from New York City funding for rapid HIV testing services

  • Elimination of New York City funds for HIV/AIDS counseling programs and legal services

  • A $700,000, 30 percent cut in New York City funds to the Injection Drug Users Health Alliance, one of the city's major providers of syringe exchange programs