In June 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a three-point plan to end AIDS in New York:
- Identify persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and link them to health care
- Link and retain persons diagnosed with HIV in health care to maximize virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission
- Facilitate access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk persons to keep them HIV negative.
Speaking at the Summit, Johanne Morne, of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, explained that community engagement was a key pillar of the strategy. “It was community leadership, community mobilization, innovation and absolutely no fear that started this discussion,” she said, noting that the strategy is the continuation of over thirty years of work in the HIV sector.
In the wake of Governor Cuomo’s announcement, New York assembled a task force of 63 key stakeholders, co-chaired by Housing Works President and CEO Charles King. The task force reviewed over three hundred recommendations from the community along with other information to develop a blueprint containing 30 recommendations related to the three-point plan and an additional seven recommendations for “Getting to Zero” (i.e. zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths). The final blueprint was released publically in April 2015.
To ensure implementation of the blueprint, the state created a 16-member AIDS Advisory Council and a public dashboard that allows the community to see how effective the strategy has been.
Morne emphasized that the task force understands that reaching a target number does not, in itself, mean the epidemic has ended, especially if remaining infections and loss to care are concentrated among members of one community or demographic. Even so, the state has been able to show key achievements since implementing the plan, including a 40% reduction in new HIV cases over the past 10 years, a 79% reduction in new AIDS diagnoses, reduction in mother-to-child transmission and reduction in new diagnoses attributed to injection drug use.