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Advocates Say Cuomo's Multi-Prong AIDS Effort Could Use More Prongs

Monday, June 30, 2014

WNYC
gay pride parade 2011 New York City Gov. Cuomo announced the latest HIV-AIDS initiative before the annual Gay Pride March in Manhattan. (Amy Pearl/WNYC)

Advocates and healthcare specialists are welcoming Gov. Andrew Cuomo's newly announced push to dramatically reduce HIV-AIDS. But at the same time, they say it will take more than expanding or tweaking current efforts that have been developed and applied over the last 20 years.

Among Cuomo's proposed efforts: expand testing for the virus, link patients with medical providers, provide housing, and drive down drug prices.

Dr. Perry Halkitis, Associate Dean at the Global Institute for Public Health at NYU, said those are all good approaches to combating the illness — but they’re not enough.

“Just assuming that we’re going to put people on medication, and the disease is going to be contained is very short-sighted,” he said. ”It doesn’t address the support structure that people need in their lives to stay on these medications.”

Halkitis frequently takes students to London, where he said the British do a much better job at suppressing HIV, because patients there are paired with advocates, social workers and psychologists. He said in the United States, people with HIV are less likely to know that they have the virus, and when it is detected, they are less likely to comply with often challenging medical regimens.

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