In recognition of Latinx (pronounced “Lateen-ex”, the gender-neutral alternative to Latino, Latina and Latin@) AIDS Awareness Day, New York Knows – the nation’s largest jurisdictional HIV testing initiative run by the Health Department – is partnering with the Latino Commission on AIDS and 45 community partners to host a citywide HIV testing event.
From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at subway stops across the city, attendees will be offered free rapid HIV testing and educational resources at subway station entrances, mobile testing units, or at nearby agency locations.
“On this important day, we remind New Yorkers that the only HIV test you should fear is the one you don’t take,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We are closer than ever to ending the HIV epidemic, and reaching out to Latinx New Yorkers and other communities is an essential part of our effort to reduce new HIV infections and ensure that we all live longer and healthier lives.”
“National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is a great opportunity for us to attack the stigma around HIV often felt in the Latinx community,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control. “By normalizing testing and sharing messages of joy and hope, we at the Health Department continue to encourage all New Yorkers to work to end HIV with love of our communities. HIV treatment and prevention must find people where they are at. #RideSure and our community partnerships are integral to our strategy to make HIV testing the gateway to care and prevention for Latinx New Yorkers.”
“The Latino Commission on AIDS recognizes the innovative campaign ‘Take the train, Take the Test’ as a collaborative effort to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020,” said Guillermo Chacon, President of LCOA. “Testing for HIV is a priority and for those who are HIV positive, linkage and retention in care is priority number one.”
“Accessible testing in our neighborhoods is vital for awareness and prevention in every community,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank the Health Department and its community partners for organizing this day of action, and look forward to the day we finally end the AIDS epidemic in New York and nationwide.”
“The higher-than-average rates of HIV in our Latinx population compel us to take significant targeted action to raise levels of awareness and community education around free, rapid, and safe testing,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I thank Commissioner Bassett and DOHMH for expanding their mission of bringing services directly to New Yorkers in need, with valuable prevention outreach being conducted at subway stations in Bushwick, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and Williamsburg.”
“In 2014 Latinx residents accounted for 28.6 percent of the New York City population, but nearly one-third of new HIV diagnoses. In light of the CDC’s finding that up to 90 percent of new infections are preventable with prompt care, these statistics are a stark reminder of why frequent testing remains an essential component of our fight to end the epidemic,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day offers us a chance to shine a light on a community that too often gets overlooked and I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Health Commissioner Bassett for taking the opportunity to raise awareness and help connect more people with the resources they need to overcome the scourge of HIV/AIDS.”
At the end of 2014, 32.5 percent (38,795) of New Yorkers living with HIV were Latino. Latino New Yorkers represent 28.6 percent of the city’s population, yet accounted for nearly one-third of new HIV diagnoses in 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring that they receive ongoing treatment and care.
In 2015, the de Blasio administration announced the NYC Plan to End the Epidemic, which includes a $23 million investment in Fiscal Year 2017 to increase HIV prevention and health care programming that will benefit nearly 200,000 New Yorkers per year when fully implemented. The plan aims to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York City to no more than 600 by 2020, a level that would reduce HIV below epidemic levels. As part of this plan, the Health Department announced an increase in STD clinic hours and services earlier this year.
Free HIV testing will be available at the following subway stations in Harlem:
116th Street (6)
125th Street (4, 5, 6)
168th Street (A, C, 1)
You can also call 311 or text TESTNYC to 877877 to find a local testing site in your area,
#PlaySure Campaign and Kit
In December 2015, the Health Department launched #PlaySure – an innovative, HIV and STI prevention campaign. The goal of this sex-positive campaign is to reach all New Yorkers and allow them to choose their preferred HIV and STI prevention tools, regardless of their HIV status. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (known as PrEP), HIV treatment, and the NYC Condom form an ideal combination for HIV prevention and sexual health. #PlaySure aims to set aside fear, and replace it with communication, honesty, and the tools we know can stop HIV and STIs.
To complement this campaign, the Health Department developed an innovative safer sex toolkit, the #PlaySure kit. The #PlaySure kit holds everything New Yorkers need to #PlaySure –condoms, lubricant, and the prevention pill of a person’s choice (e.g., HIV medications for prevention or care). Over 40,000 kits have been distributed to New Yorkers since World AIDS Day 2015, when the kit was originally unveiled. The goal of the kit is to allow New Yorkers to design a safer sex plan that fits their lifestyle and needs. #PlaySure kits are available for free at participating community organizations and at many community events throughout the year. Distribution locations are also available by calling 311.
New Yorkers should talk openly with their doctors about getting screened for HIV and about their sexual practices. For additional information about the city’s free STD clinics, please visit nyc.gov/stdclinic. You can also call 311 or text TESTNYC to 877877 to find a local testing site. To find a location that offers free NYC Condoms, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/condoms. To learn more about condom use and sexual health or to download the free NYC Condom Finder, please visit facebook.com/NYCcondom.