New Cases of HIV Reach Record Lows as New York Pushes to End AIDS Epidemic

Image: Pat Arnow
Image: Pat Arnow
The latest data from the New York State Department of Health indicates that the number of new HIV infections in the state has fallen to a record low of just 2,500 cases in 2014.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, those numbers put the state on track to meet its goal of reducing new cases to just 750 by the year 2020, diminishing the scope of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Additionally, the number of New Yorkers with detectable levels of the virus in their systems fell by 10% between 2013 and 2014, a positive and encouraging advancement for the $20 million campaign to end AIDS started by Cuomo two years ago.

“New York State is leading the fight against HIV and AIDS, and these results display extraordinary progress toward our overall goal of ending this epidemic,” Cuomo said. “We are working toward making New York, once the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic, a place where new infections are rare and those living with the disease can enjoy a full, normal and healthy life.”

At the same time, the state still has a long way to go and significant obstacles to overcome. One in 10 Americans who are infected with HIV live in New York; the virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse or the use of shared needles among drug users. HIV and AIDS weaken the immune system, which can lead to susceptibility to tuberculosis, lymphoma, or upper respiratory conditions, the last of which are the most common diagnosis in urgent care centers across the country.

To meet the 2020 goals, Cuomo announced a new $4 million initiative to make pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication more accessible to people at high risk of contracting the disease and to provide further care for pregnant women or mothers who are HIV-positive.

“New York continues to lead the nation, really the world, in the march to end the AIDS Epidemic,” said Robert M. Hayes of the Community Healthcare Network. “We see a light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel.”

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