County Executive Bellone today announced that Suffolk County will join millions of people across the globe in observing December 1 as World AIDS Day. Started in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first- ever global health day. The day has been observed each year for the past thirty years offering an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died.
“Suffolk County is at the forefront of combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic by educating our residents and providing all the necessary tools and resources that can be accessed through our Department of Health Services and its partners,” said County Executive Bellone. “I am proud of the leadership and commitment that our Department of Health Services displays in addressing all forms of public health crisis to keep our residents safe and informed.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been impressive movement in HIV prevention through viral load suppression and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill for that prevents HIV. The agency reports that HIV is being diagnosed sooner after infection than had been reported several years ago. However,40 percent of new HIV infections originate from people who don’t know they have HIV.
Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health, said, “The news is both encouraging and challenging. With viral suppression and PrEP, we have the tools we need to stop the spread of HIV; however, too many people have HIV infections that go undiagnosed for too long. I encourage healthcare professionals to make HIV testing as routine as a cholesterol check and to integrate PrEP into routine preventive health care for adult patients—particularly in primary care, reproductive health, and behavioral health settings.”
According to the CDC, more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and one in seven of them don’t know it. In Suffolk County, in 2016, there were 3,071 people living with HIV or AIDS, and 107 were newly diagnosed with HIV, according to New York State HIV/AIDS Surveillance Annual Report for Cases Diagnosed through December 2016.
Gay and bisexual men accounted for 83 percent of HIV diagnoses among males and 67 percent of all diagnoses. African American gay and bisexual men accounted for the largest number of HIV diagnoses followed by Latino and white gay and bisexual men. In the U.S. in 2016, those in the 25 to 29 age range had the highest number of diagnoses, followed by those ages 20 to 24 and 30 to 34.
CDC recommends testing all people ages 13-64 for HIV at least once in their lifetime, and people at higher risk for HIV at least annually. Healthcare providers may find it beneficial to test some sexually active gay and bisexual men more frequently (e.g., every three to six months).
World AIDS Day 2018 events and testing centers in Suffolk County include:
Friday, November 30
- “Fondue Me”: HIV/AIDS Prevention Education workshop will be provided by LIAAC staff at fun and lively event hosted by the Office of Student Activities at Stony Brook University’s SAC Ballroom from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, December 1
- Youth Advisory Board (YAB) Meeting and World AIDS Day Celebration Event: Project Connect welcome At-Risk Young Men of Color Who Have Relationships with Men (ages 16 years –29 years) to attend a meeting and find out about YAB and participate in a local field trip to the African American Museum in Hempstead where we will enjoy celebrations, refreshments and workshops recognizing World AIDS Day, an event hosted by Five Towns Community Center. The day’s events will start at 1 p.m. in a Safe Space on Fulton Street in Hempstead. Young men, please contact us at 516-292-3500 if you are interested in attending!
- HIV/AIDS Prevention Education workshop and free and confidential testing will be provided by LIAAC staff at 7 p.m.–10 p.m. at Stony Brook University’s Recreation Center.
Monday, December 3rd
- HIV/AIDS Prevention Education workshop and free and confidential testing will be provided by LIAAC staff at Nassau Community College’s celebration in Recognition of World AIDS Day from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at NCC.
Free HIV Testing and Resources:
Suffolk County Family Health Centers
Suffolk County Department of Health Services is affiliated with nine family health centers located in Amityville, Brentwood, Greenlawn, Coram, Southampton, Patchogue, Riverhead, Shirley, and Wyandanch. The health centers offer HIV testing services, education and treatment. For contact information for the health centers, visit http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices/PatientCare/HealthCenters.aspx
LIAAC: AIDS Education and Testing Initiative
The Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) is a community-based, not-for-profit agency that provides services and support for Long Islanders infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and at high risk for HIV infection and other infectious diseases. Staff refers and link clients to medical treatment, supportive services, and assists them with navigating through the social services and health care system. LIAAC offers case management, a hotline for Long Islanders looking for AIDS-related services, and testing –including rapid HIV, Hepatitis C and STIs (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis) testing --throughout the year on its mobile van. Call on the hotline 1-877-865-4222 to ask the mobile van to visit your neighborhood. For more information on LIAAC, visit http://www.liaac.org/hiv-aids-hotline.php
LIGALY offers free, quick, and confidential HIV/STI testing at its community centers across Long Island. Get results in as little as 20 minutes, by appointment or during drop-in hours. Free condoms are available, as well.
Where: The Center at Bay Shore, 34 Park Ave., Bay Shore, NY
When: Drop-In Hours are every Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and every second Friday of the month from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (ages 13-21 only).
Where: 44 Union St., Sag Harbor, NY
When: Call for an appointment
For questions or to schedule an appointment, call 631.665.2300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to travel, LIGALY can come to you. Its discreet mobile testing van is outfitted to facilitate testing.
See more at: http://lgbtnetwork.org/content/fighting-hivstis#sthash.jACYXRGd.dpuf
Stony Brook Internal Medicine: Stony Brook Adolescent Medicine
Requirements: Under 25 years old. Using the resources of a grant from New York State, Stony Brook's Division of Adolescent Medicine can arrange free, rapid HIV testing throughout Suffolk County.
Location: 2701 Sunrise Highway, Islip Terrace, NY 22752.
For PrEP, call 631-444-1313
HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locators
NYS Testing site information
Join your neighbors by observing World AIDS Day on social media; use the hashtag #WAD2018.
For more information on World AIDS Day follow HIV.gov and PEPFAR.gov.