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Callen-Lorde Applauds Governor Cuomo’s Actions to End the HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Curb Hepatitis C

March 16, 2018

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York State would be the first state in the nation to create and implement a plan to eliminate hepatitis C, and demonstrated his commitment to fully implementing the Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic (ETE) Plan by expanding HIV rental assistance to Upstate NY and Long Island.

“Callen-Lorde is thrilled that Governor Cuomo is building on the state’s notable progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in New York,” said Wendy Stark, Executive Director. “His commitment today advancing a statewide expansion of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration rental assistance program for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS in Upstate New York and Long Island and his commitment to enacting the nation’s first state-level Hepatitis C comprehensive elimination strategy are promising developments.”

Callen-Lorde – along with 146 other clinics, hospitals, organizations and entities statewide – endorsed the NYS Hepatitis C Elimination Consensus Statement last year, calling on the Governor, the NYS Legislature and industry partners to make a joint commitment to hepatitis C elimination, with a formal Task Force to establish a statewide elimination plan.

Similarly, Callen-Lorde has joined partners around New York to call for a statewide expansion of the successful New York City housing assistance program for people living with HIV. “The Governor’s rental assistance proposals are a welcomed first step to scale up housing assistance for people living with HIV statewide,” said Kimberleigh Smith, Senior Director for Community Health Planning and Policy. “We know that housing is a key determinant for health and is essential if we really want to end AIDS by 2020.” The proposal enables localities across the state to have the option to cap rent costs at 30% of income for New Yorkers living with HIV and the option to pay up to 100% fair market rent using funds accrued through healthcare savings.

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center cares predominantly for LGBTQ communities and people living with HIV and has recently established a Hepatitis C clinic initiative to addresses increases in infection rates among its HIV population. The Callen-Lorde Hepatitis C Clinic has identified over 30 patients in need of HCV treatment navigation and has been able to connect over 50% of these to the cure.

Overall, Callen-Lorde has observed the benefits of investments in ETE clinical initiatives.  Eighty-five percent of HIV+ patients overall are virally suppressed (<200). The rate is 92% among patients who had a medical visit in the last six months of 2017. According to the state Department of Health AIDS Institute’s “Ending the Epidemic” progress report, in 2016, 70% of people living with diagnosed HIV in NYS appeared to be virally suppressed.

“The data certainly is headed in the right direction,” concluded Stark. “But we know that not all of our communities are experiencing the same level of progress, and we will not end AIDS in New York until we end it for everyone. The Governor’s commitments to eliminate hepatitis C and expand housing assistance get us much more within reach of the ambitious, but achievable, goal to end AIDS. We look forward to hearing the details.”

Born out of the Stonewall Era, Callen-Lorde is rooted in the ideals of health equity.  Our unwavering mission is to provide sensitive, quality health care and related services primarily targeting New York’s LGBT communities and to be welcoming to all regardless of ability to pay.