According to the report, 1,594 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City in 2021, up 14% from 2020 but down 23% since 2017 and down 73% since 2001. While an annual increase in new HIV diagnoses in New York City is atypical, the increase in new diagnoses from 2020 to 2021 reflects a rebounding following the steep drop during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when HIV testing services were less accessible and available to New Yorkers.
The number of new HIV diagnoses reported in 2021 likely includes diagnoses among people who had delayed seeking HIV testing during 2020 and were tested in 2021. Comparing new diagnoses in 2021 and in 2019 before COVID-19, the pace of decline was consistent with that observed in the five years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“New HIV diagnoses continue to fall, and we are also seeing a rebound in HIV testing and care-seeking,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Both of these achievements are a testament to recent and historical public health advocacy that never gave up the fight for better services and support. World AIDS Day is an important moment to recognize what has been won, remember what has been lost, and commit to ending the epidemic once and for all.”
“As we continue to drive toward our goals to end the HIV epidemic in New York City, we remain committed to holistically assessing marginalized communities’ needs and placing them at the center of our work,” said Dr. Sarah Braunstein, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Hepatitis, HIV, and Sexually Transmitted Infections. “The Health Department is especially grateful to our provider and community partners whose hard work and commitment to reaching our goals never wavered, even when faced with the demands of the COVID-19 and MPV public health emergencies. Our provider and community partnerships illustrate the power of working collectively and the importance of optimizing public health for those who need it most.”
There were increases in new HIV diagnoses in New York City from 2020 to 2021 among men, women, and transgender people; Black, Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American people; all age groups 20 years and older; and nearly all transmission categories. As described above, these increases are rebounds from the artificially low number of new HIV diagnoses in 2020.
In addition to tracking new HIV diagnoses in the city, the Health Department estimates the number of new HIV infections each year, a key Ending the Epidemic metric. Estimated incident HIV infections declined 25% from 2017 to 2021, with men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual men experiencing particularly steep declines of 25% and 29%, respectively.
While these data demonstrate important progress toward ending the epidemic, inequities persist across many communities. Of all women newly diagnosed with HIV in 2021, 88% were Black or Latina/Hispanic, and of all men newly diagnosed, 80% were Black or Latino/Hispanic. Of all men newly diagnosed with HIV in 2021, 60% were MSM; of all new diagnoses among MSM, 80% were among Black or Latino MSM. And nearly half of New Yorkers newly diagnosed with HIV in 2021 lived in neighborhoods of high or very high poverty. Differences in the distribution of new HIV diagnoses among racial and ethnic groups and other categories are influenced by long-term structural racism and discrimination.
In 2021, 79% of all people with HIV in New York City were virally suppressed, meaning they had undetectable viral loads on the last viral load measurement of the calendar year, up from 78% in 2020. People with HIV who are on treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV through sex. In 2021, 87% of all people with HIV in New York City engaged in HIV medical care were virally suppressed, up from 85% in 2017.
“On World AIDS Day, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to support New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and honor those whom we have lost to the epidemic,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The 2021 HIV Surveillance Annual Report shows that the City has made significant progress in our efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but there is more work to do. In particular, we must address the inequities that continue to persist among New Yorkers newly diagnosed with HIV. Along with Health Commissioner Vasan, the Health Department, and advocates across the city, we will continue working together on these critical efforts.”
“Ending the Epidemic isn’t just a slogan, it is a promise,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “I’m proud that New York City has dedicated the resources necessary to achieve the numbers we’re seeing here. Thanks to Health Commissioner Vasan, his team, and all of the community organizations working every day toward ending the HIV epidemic in our lifetimes.”
“Our continued progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in New York City should stir pride in our whole city, especially in those whose tireless efforts to combat the virus have been successful,” said Council Member Chi Ossé.“We have come so far since the height of the epidemic and demonstrated the efficacy of good government when we work together in the right direction. Still, these data show we have a long way to go in ensuring that the benefits of our health programs are shared equitably, as Black and Latino New Yorkers continue to bear the brunt of HIV’s spread. I commend the Health Department for their impressive work and look forward to improving upon it as a City moving forward.”
On December 1, 2022, the Health Department will host the 2022 World AIDS Day citywide event as part of the New York State 2022 Ending the Epidemic (ETE) Summit. The virtual event will feature remarks from Mayor Eric Adams, Health Commissioner Vasan, and Assistant Commissioner Braunstein; comments from providers and community members; and performances by local artists. Health Commissioner Vasan will also announce the following 2022 World AIDS Day awardees during the event.
- Kenyon Farrow, Managing Director of Advocacy and Organizing at PrEP4All
- Krishna Stone, Director of Community Relations at GMHC
- Mika De Roo, Managing Director of Communications and Marketing at The Door
- ACT UP New York
- Apicha Community Health Center
- La Nueva Esperanza
- OnPoint NYC
To register, visit the 2022 ETE Summit registration page. Recordings of the 2022 World AIDS Day citywide event and other 2022 ETE Summit sessions will be available to registrants via the Whova conference platform for the next six months.
In October, the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care in partnership with its Fast-Track Cities Institute awarded New York City a 2022 Circle of Excellence Award, recognizing local efforts to end the HIV epidemic. Other 2022 Circle of Excellence Award recipients includes Amsterdam, Johannesburg, Kingston, Lagos, and Quezon City. Mayor Adams accepted the award via pre-recorded video during the Fast-Track Cities 2022 conference in Sevilla, Spain. Also during the conference, New York City signed onto the Sevilla Declaration. Building on the Paris Declaration, which New York City signed onto in 2016, the Sevilla Declaration commits to placing affected communities at the center of urban HIV responses and includes 10 commitments ranging from safeguarding the dignity and rights of communities affected by HIV to meeting the United Nations goals for community-led HIV responses.
In March, in response to the New York City 2020 Ending the HIV Epidemic Plan, the Health Department launched PlaySure Network 2.0, a multimillion-dollar initiative to support agencies to deliver a comprehensive health package of HIV services using an equity-focused, client-centered one-stop-shop model. Eighteen agencies receive funding to deliver HIV testing, HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and emergency PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), and immediate HIV antiretroviral treatment and HIV primary care; sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment; outreach and navigation services; and mental health, substance use, and other supportive services. PlaySure Network 2.0 continues the groundbreaking work of the PlaySure Network, which ran from 2017 to 2022, with a special emphasis on reducing stigma and inequities.
“On this World AIDS Day, we want to make clear that while we have made tremendous progress as a community, we know that we still have work to do to eradicate HIV/AIDS,” said Elisa Crespo, Executive Director at the NEW Pride Agenda. “Stigma, homophobia, transphobia, and the traumatic experience associated with a global pandemic have set us back. HIV/AIDS continues to impact racial and ethnic minorities, particularly queer and trans people of color, and those involved in the sex trades. The NEW Pride Agenda is committed to working with our partners to achieve the goal of ending the epidemic in New York by 2024.”
“World AIDS Day 2022 provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate the significant progress and successful outcomes being achieved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Cosmina Zeana, Chief, Infectious Diseases, at BronxCare Health System. “At BronxCare, we are proud of our accomplishments in responding to the needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS and, most importantly, helping them live long and healthy lives.”
“On the commemoration of World AIDS Day 2022, we celebrate the great progress we all have made to end the HIV epidemic,” said Fidel Bu Contreras, Program Director at Betances Health Center. “We have all the tools to eradicate this HIV epidemic. Our focus should be on interventions that provide treatment and prevention to our communities at risk for HIV. Peers workers play a critical role in finding, linking, and retaining in-care patients who have HIV, and ultimately in preventing new infections by promoting PrEP and PEP. It takes a village!”
“Our success in ending the HIV epidemic in New York is very much reliant on the enduring strength of our HIV services and health care delivery system,” said Jonathan Santos-Ramos, Interim Executive Director at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. “This system has been tested by the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed the pace of community progress to meet the Ending the Epidemic timeline. As we deal with the reality of shifting healthcare challenges, we must not lose focus on the opportunity that remains and not be complacent and inactive. The 2021 data suggest that we have to hold fast to our goals and seize the opportunity to make investments and improvements in our healthcare infrastructure, which will go a long way toward advancing our plan to end AIDS, eliminating inequities, and making quality healthcare available for all.”
“These data underscore the urgent importance of increased funding to counteract nationwide setbacks in HIV testing and preventive services that have occurred over the pandemic,” said Jeremiah Johnson, Acting Executive Director at PrEP4All. “While the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other health departments nationwide are leveraging strained resources to recover lost ground in HIV testing and PrEP uptake, we know that more must be done to support our public health workforce and ensure that the most vulnerable populations are not left behind.
For this reason, PrEP4All and hundreds of other organizations nationwide are calling for immediate investment by Congress in a National PrEP Program for uninsured and underinsured individuals.”
Earlier this month, the Health Department announced expanded services at its Sexual Health Clinics, including the launch of the Fort Greene Express Clinic and the reopening of the Corona Sexual Health Clinic, which now offers HIV PrEP continuity of care services. The Sexual Health Clinics and the NYC Sexual Health Hotline offer low- to no-cost services for STIs, including HIV.
Anyone 12 years or older can receive services, regardless of immigration status. No parental consent is necessary. The Sexual Health Clinic Hotline is available at 347-396-7959, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information on the Sexual Health Clinics and Hotline, including services, locations, and hours of operation, visit nyc.gov/health/clinics.
This World AIDS Day, 1 December 2022, UNAIDS is urging each of us to address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS.