NEW YORK: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Unveils Plan To “End The AIDS Epidemic”

At a press conference held yesterday shortly before he marched in the NYC Pride parade, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new plan to “end the AIDS epidemic” in New York state.

Borrowing an idea from leading AIDS researchers, the Cuomo administration said on Friday that it had developed a plan to aggressively identify, track and treat people with H.I.V. infection with the aim of reducing new infection to the point that by 2020, AIDS would no longer reach epidemic levels in New York State.The state’s acting health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, said on Friday that he believed that by 2020, New York could reduce its annual incidence of new H.I.V. infections to about 750 from the current 3,000, bringing the number of new cases below the number of annual deaths, or as he put it, “bending the curve” in the direction of ending the epidemic in the state. This would put the number of new H.I.V. cases on a par with that of new tuberculosis cases, he said. “No one views tuberculosis as an epidemic — it’s a manageable disease at this point,” Dr. Zucker said. The governor’s plan builds upon “key policies already enacted,” the administration said, to track those infected, identify those who do not know they are infected and make sure they all get the treatment they need. The prospect of ending the AIDS epidemic is gaining momentum in epidemiological circles. It is based on studies showing that AIDS drugs have a double-barreled effect not just as treatment but as a means of blocking transmission. On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a leading AIDS researcher, argued at the Aspen Ideas Festival that “we can end the AIDS pandemic in the next 10 years.”

Treatment Action Group applauds:

With this bold initiative, New York State—long the epicenter of the nation’s HIV epidemic—becomes the first jurisdiction anywhere in the world to publicly declare a goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic with the launch of a comprehensive effort to end AIDS deaths and halt new infections by employing state-of-the-art testing, preventive technologies, treatment, and supportive services. “The goal is ambitious, but grounded in reality,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of TAG. “New York State has always been a leader and center of innovation in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We have seen an almost 40 percent decrease in new HIV diagnoses in the last decade, with fewer new infections each year, while nationally there has been no decline in the annual number of new HIV infections. With continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the state’s successful Medicaid reform, we’ve gained the momentum necessary to put more people living with, and at risk for, HIV into primary care, and to give them the support services necessary to achieve success.”