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Bronx, NY – On Tuesday, February 6th, 2024, at 3:00 p.m., Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson was joined by New York City Council Member Pierina Sanchez; Chief Medical Officer of Morris Heights Health Center, Dr. Lois Bookhardt; Destination Tomorrow, and health advocates representing the Bronx’s LGBTQIA+ community to recognize National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The elected officials and healthcare advocates called for a strategy to address some of the findings in the recently released 2022 HIV Surveillance Annual Report by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that show that while progress has been made towards ending the HIV epidemic in New York City, inequities persist in Black and Latino communities.

Among the findings:

·    1,624 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2022. Forty-three percent (43%) of newly diagnosed people were Black and 40% were Latino/Hispanic.

·    Of all women newly diagnosed with HIV in 2022, 84% were Black or Latina/Hispanic. In the same report, of all men newly diagnosed, 83% were Black or Latino/Hispanic.

·    Forty-one percent (41%) of newly diagnosed people lived in high or very-high-poverty ZIP codes at the time of diagnosis.

·    In the same report, of all men newly diagnosed, 83% were Black or Latino/Hispanic.

·    Forty-nine percent (49%) of newly diagnosed people overall and 62% among men were among men who have sex with men.

Neighborhood Break-Down:

·    Central Harlem–Morningside Heights and Hunts Point–Mott Haven had the highest HIV diagnosis rates in 2022.

·    Chelsea–Clinton, Crotona–Tremont, and High Bridge–Morrisania had the highest HIV prevalence in NYC.

·    Kingsbridge–Riverdale, Port Richmond, and Rockaway had the highest mortality rates among people with HIV.

“As a borough and as a city, we have made significant strides in ending the epidemic, but we know our work is not done,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “The data is clear –stark disparities in care remain in communities of color that we must take immediate action to address. We do this by working with our credible messengers who understand the unique needs of their patients, increasing access to testing in at-risk communities, and by making PrEP and PEP accessible and affordable for all. In partnership with our LGBTQIA+ Task Force, HIV Roundtable, colleagues in government, community partners, and healthcare advocates, we are committed to eliminating barriers that prevent our residents from receiving potentially life-saving care. Thank you to Council Member Sanchez, Morris Heights Health Center, Destination Tomorrow, The Bronx ETE Regional Committee, Amida Care, Anthony Randolph, and everyone else for working with us to end this epidemic and ensure our most vulnerable residents are not forgotten.”

“The Bronx suffers from the highest rates of HIV across New York State’s 62 counties, and sexually transmitted infection rates are at unacceptably high rates among vulnerable groups in our city. By making rapid testing services available throughout the city and educating New Yorkers, my soon-to-be reintroduced bill will work to reduce infection rates and save lives. It is time to ensure everyone has access to the services they need,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. “I am looking forward to continuing to work alongside community partners, MHHC, the Borough President, and a long line of advocates in emphasizing the importance of continuing to invest in proven strategies to combat disparities and this epidemic effectively.”

“In the Bronx, the impact of HIV/AIDS on the black community is undeniable, and on this Day of Action, MHHC reaffirms its dedication to driving change,” said Dr. Lois Bookhardt, Chief Medical Officer of Morris Heights Health Center. “Through proactive initiatives, MHHC extends a lifeline to individuals by providing routine care and treatment to keep people with HIV healthy, accessible screenings, distributing self-test kits, and offering a wealth of educational resources. Our goal is not only to raise awareness but to actively combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, ensuring that our community is informed, protected, and supported. Together, let us make strides toward a healthier future for all.”

“The data shows that in 2022 the most impacted communities of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses are those that identify as Black and Brown men and women,” said Sean Coleman, Executive Director of Destination Tomorrow. “As a direct service provider, our goal is to address these disparities and new diagnoses with services that address the root causes. Safe, affordable housing is HIV prevention. Earning a livable wage is HIV prevention, having access to healthy food is HIV prevention.”

“I have lived with HIV for over two decades. Years ago, I was homeless, isolated, and in and out of the hospital. Luckily, I was able to get the support I needed through Amida Care, a Medicaid Special Needs Health Plan, to get the care and medication I needed to become virally suppressed. My HIV is now undetectable, and I help others like me take control of their health. Getting tested to know your HIV status gives you the power to live your best life,” said Anthony Randolph. Amida care member & Bronx resident.

The Borough President and Council Member joined advocates and community leaders to call for additional testing in at-risk communities, the increased availability of PrEP and PEP, and the need for credible messengers who are culturally competent, language-diverse, and understand the unique needs of the communities they serve. At the event, the Borough President also announced working with Link NYC to get resources shared on their kiosks in neighborhoods with the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses in the borough and working with her HIV Roundtable and LGBTQIA+ Task Force to disseminate information and develop public policy recommendations to combat this epidemic. Council Member Sanchez announced she would be reintroducing her bill in the City Council that would require rapid STI/STD testing in high-risk communities.

The Borough President also proclaimed February 7th as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the borough of the Bronx.