Ending the Epidemic Press Conference: March 22, 2016
By Perry Junjulas, Albany Damien Center Executive Director and Person with AIDS
As a person living with AIDS, I am alive today because of the past investments made by New York State to help people with AIDS. I firmly believe that I survived because I live in NYS and had access to life saving programs offered by the Department of Health, and services provided by community organizations like the Albany Damien Center. These life-saving programs were a result of investments made over 25 years ago by the NYS legislature and Governor, which proved to help keep many of us alive today.
We are truly at a watershed moment in the history of the AIDS epidemic in NYS. We have an opportunity to implement a blueprint, which will not only save lives, but put us on a direct highway to an AIDS Free generation. We have an opportunity to make an investment in the future health of all New Yorkers who are at risk for HIV infection, ultimately saving the state millions in dollars in saved costs down the line - and resulting in zero deaths from AIDS.
As the past co-chair of the Housing & Supportive Services subcommittee of the Ending the Epidemic Task Force, we found complete consensus that ensuring stable housing is a critical factor in Ending AIDS and reducing new infections in NYS.
- Both the research and 30 years of experience have proven that safe, appropriate housing is essential for retention in lifesaving HIV care and reduction of HIV transmission.
- 12,000 New Yorkers with HIV remain homeless or unstably housed, 4,000 (or 33%) of which are outside of New York City.
- The highest impacted areas outside of NYC are: Albany, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga counties, the Hudson Valley, and Long Island.
- There is no rental assistance program outside NYC, other than the limited number of vouchers available through the federally funded HOPWA program. Localities outside NYC are not able to generate sufficient funding to pay for the cost of a HASA-like program.
On behalf of persons with HIV and AIDS, like myself, I implore the Governor, Assembly, and Senate to completely fund our 70 million dollar request in this year’s budget.
Now is the time to make this investment in the future health of all New Yorkers.
Now is the time to end homelessness for people with HIV and AIDS statewide.
Now is the time to put our resources into Ending this AIDS Epidemic in NYS.
Now is the time.