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Hochul announces virtual 'Ending the Epidemic Summit' to highlight state's HIV response efforts


Wed, Dec 1st 2021 09:15 am

Marks 40 years since first case of AIDS identified

√ New York has bent curve for new HIV infections & diagnoses

√ State releases ‘Ending the Epidemic’ addendum report
√ Renewed pledge to end HIV epidemic by 2024

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced New York's sixth annual "Ending the Epidemic (ETE) Summit" will be held virtually Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, to coincide with World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

This year's World AIDS Day holds special importance, as June 5 marked 40 years since the first official reporting in the CDC's morbidity and mortality weekly report (MMWR) of five cases describing what later became known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

"Over the last four decades, New York state's unwavering efforts to educate people on HIV transmission and provide groundbreaking strategies for access to treatment have resulted in bending the curve for new infections and diagnoses," Hochul said. "This year's 'Ending the Epidemic Summit' is a time to reflect on both the progress we've made and the challenges we still face, and to reenergize our shared goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2024."

This year's summit theme is "Overcoming Pandemics: ETE and COVID-19" with the tagline: "From the Ground up: 40 Years of Public Health," with summit events showcasing the work being done by providers and communities statewide. The summit will share HIV metric outcomes achieved in 2020 and highlight the strategies New York has taken to address challenges that have persisted throughout the HIV epidemic and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As we reflect upon decades of research that has enabled us to make impressive gains in the fight against HIV and AIDS, we continue to balance these efforts with unforeseen public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic," New York State Department of Health Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Kristin Proud said. "Amid new challenges, New York state will continue to pursue its longstanding goals to make ‘Undetectable = Untransmissible’ and ensure people receive the care that they need to live longer, healthier lives."

Hochul’s team said, “Reversing COVID's impact on New York state's ‘ETE’ efforts and helping communities achieve equitable outcomes for all populations requires a new timeline and a redoubling of successful efforts. To that end, New York state is extending the ‘ETE’ timeline and pledges to reach ‘ETE’ goals and end the HIV epidemic by the end of 2024, with outcomes measuring progress towards ‘ETE’ metrics available by December 2025. Health equity, social determinants of health, and addressing racial disparities will be the center of our focus as we move forward.”

New York State Sen. Gustavo Rivera said, "Every World AIDS Day should serve as a powerful reminder of how far we have come as a state in our fight against an epidemic that has claimed the lives of too many New Yorkers. I applaud Gov. Hochul and her administration for once again hosting the ‘ETE Summit’ to ensure we come up with policies that will prevent new infections and improve the quality of life of those living with this disease, especially in minority communities who continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV."

Assembly member Richard Gottfried said, "World AIDS Day is a call to action in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and New York continues to be a model for good public health policy. We're on a path to ending the HIV epidemic in our lifetimes. If we can engage communities, expand access to care, and ensure affordable medications and housing, we can win the fight against AIDS."

The “ETE” addendum is a written report that provides an overview of the past five years of New York's “ETE” initiatives, as well as a summary of the community feedback sessions that were conducted in 2020 to assist in identifying areas of focus for “ETE” beyond 2020. The report can be found here.

Hochul’s team said, “Due to the historic and robust state response over the last 36 years, New York state has bent the curve on the HIV epidemic, reversing the decades-long increase in the number of people in New York state that are diagnosed with HIV. New HIV infections and diagnoses have experienced a steady decline throughout ‘ETE,’ and both reached record lows in 2020 with 1,467 new estimated infections and 1,933 new HIV diagnoses.

“The progress achieved through ending the HIV epidemic efforts has not been equitable across all groups. For people newly diagnosed with HIV last year, Hispanic people experienced new case rates per 100,000 more than four times higher than white people. For Black/African American people, this rate was 8 times higher than white people. These disparities are also seen in viral suppression outcomes with just 84% of Black/African American people engaged in HIV care virally suppressed in 2020, compared to 88% of Hispanic people and 93% of white people. While viral suppression declined across all race/ethnicities engaged in HIV care in 2020 compared to 2019, the fact that that the racial inequity gap grew larger is especially troubling.

“Disparities in use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) also persist, despite New York state having the highest rate of PrEP coverage in the nation. Communities of color and persons of lower socioeconomic status – two groups overrepresented among people at risk for HIV – are accessing PrEP at rates many times lower than white individuals and those of higher socioeconomic status relative to need. Women, particularly Black and Hispanic women, are also at elevated risk for acquiring HIV, but are accessing PrEP at disproportionately low levels. These facts point to the persistence of structural and other forms of racism and inequality as important drivers of disparate health outcomes, despite the progress made overall.

“While New York state has made incredible progress to end the epidemic, the state and frontline providers spent the majority of 2020 and early 2021 responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Providers have adapted to this new landscape and found innovative ways to deliver services and support clients through the use of telehealth, HIV home testing kits, drive-through HIV testing, use of mobile and off-site laboratory services, the promotion of patient self-swabbing and other such efforts.

“While the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency from the state's public health community has been heroic, the redirection of resources has delayed achievement of ‘ETE’ goals. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been increases in HIV cases in certain parts of the state, significant reductions in HIV testing, decreases in the number of persons accessing PrEP, and record high levels of STIs and opioid overdose.

“New York state continues to be a leader for other states and has demonstrated significant success in ‘ETE’-related areas of eliminating mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. In 2021, NYS met the goal of elimination of MTCT. This is the seventh time that NYS has achieved the elimination of MTCT (2013 and 2015-20) and the first time that NYS has met the goal in six consecutive years.”

New York's uninsured care programs serve more than 24,000 uninsured and underinsured persons living with HIV/AIDS annually, through a network of over 4,500 providers located throughout the state. Specifically, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) clients have continued to receive services and maintain key outcomes including viral load suppression and sustained viral load suppression during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hochul’s team said, “Our syringe exchange programs, the backbone of the state's efforts to fight disease and overdose, weathered COVID-19 with remarkable resilience. Program utilization returned to prepandemic levels within six months, then surpassed it by 5%. The first New York state-sponsored Overdose Awareness Day was held on Sept. 9, 2021, as a virtual event to honor the lives lost to overdose, as well as to recognize the personal and collective achievements of the individuals and groups working to end overdose. With over 300 individuals in attendance, this community event was an opportunity to reflect on the lives lost as well as to acknowledge the incredible work being done on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic and to raise awareness of the continued importance of overdose prevention.”

Hochul also recently signed legislation that takes steps toward combating the opioid overdose crisis. These changes will move New York further toward achieving its “ETE” goals.

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