Central New York health agencies are praising Governor Cuomo’s efforts to put an end to the AIDS epidemic in New York State. Governor Cuomo announced his plan on Sunday, the same day as New York City’s PRIDE Parade. Cuomo’s goal is to reduce the number of HIV infections to 750 cases a year by the year 2020.
Director of Prevention Services at ACR Health Erin Bortell says one strategy by itself isn’t enough to fight the epidemic. The three-point plan, which Cuomo is calling "Bending the Curve," mirrors the Center for Disease Control Guidelines released about a year and a half ago. Bortell says finding an end to the epidemic does not mean zero new infections, but rather getting HIV down to a more manageable level. She says to do so, the plan has to use the most innovative research...
The three-point plan is a combined approach to decreasing the number of HIV cases. It includes identifying new infections, making sure people with HIV continue with treatment and ensuring people who are HIV negative remain negative.
In the Central New York region alone, 3,500 people are known or suspected to be HIV positive. Treating them - and preventing new infections - is difficult. Many people are likely to drop out of treatment before reaching the final step in care, either because of the cost involved or the sometimes serious side effects which can accompany the drugs needed to combat the infection. The drugs help people carrying the virus live longer, healthier lives, and past efforts reduced infections by as much as 40% in New York state.
Cuomo and Bortell mention that the investment in the AIDS reduction plan will be beneficial on a public health basis and also on the financial front:
"Bending the Curve" has already been enacted this year in the budget, and the New York State Department of Health Medicaid Program has negotiated rebates with three major pharmaceutical companies, which represent 70% of the HIV market. AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead have agreed to help ensure infected persons are receiving the appropriate medications.