New York – Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on December 1st, a $23 million plan that will be used to create new health care programs that will provide services for almost 200,000 people a year. The announcement was made during an event on World AIDS Day 2015 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City could be AIDS free by 2020. Credit:

“As we mark World AIDS Day, I’m proud to partner with the Council to announce an unprecedented $23 million more a year for prevention and health care”, the mayor said in a statement.

The plan includes using pre-exposure measures like drugs that can prevent contracting HIV, also, the city’s sexually transmitted disease clinics will stay open longer hours. For people who do get infected, the clinics will rapidly start treatment with anti-retroviral drugs.

On the other hand, New York City reported that during 2014 there were 2,718 new HIV diagnoses, being the lowest number ever recorded. This number of new cases represent a 35 percent decline from 2004, and a 9 percent descent from 2012.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced he wants to expand HASA benefits to all city residents living with HIV. At the moment, these benefits are only available for those with an AIDS diagnoses or a symptomatic HIV infection — meaning a T-Cell count of 200 or less — or two other opportunistic infections. The expansion would raise the number of people eligible for the benefits by 7,300 to nearly 40,000.

The city is also launching a new “#playsafe” campaign, distributing kits with condoms, lube, and places to hold medications or birth control.

These are all good news over the HIV/AIDS concern, and to sum up a few more, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the plan is to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020.

Cuomo also announced that he would ask the state Legislature for $200 million for HIV/AIDS in the coming year’s budget. That’s in addition to the $2.5 billion the state already spends on HIV/AIDS. The money would be used to reinforce programs such as access to pre-exposure prophylactics, increase funding for Medicaid Managed Care and expand access for the HIV/AIDS Services Administration, which provides food, housing and transportation to people living with AIDS.

The coalition, a partnership of nearly 70 HIV and LGBT organizations, city health officials, social and political groups, including the Latino Commission on AIDS are helping achieve the initiative’s goals.

Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of the Hispanic Health Network said the governor’s plan is historic. He said it would save the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and provide a model for the nation to end AIDS.

Source: Capital New York