News


Working to Empower HIV Patients and End the Epidemic

February 7, 2019

FPHNYC Staff

As the first health department clinics in the United States to provide immediate on-site access to HIV treatment, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)’s Sexual Health Clinics offer a lifeline to patients seeking HIV treatment. Patients who enter the clinics unaware that they are HIV-positive or who were previously unable to access HIV treatment (due to lack of access, stigma, or having had difficulty engaging in care) leave feeling empowered to take control of their sexual health. In the words of one 32-year-old patient, “You have no idea how long I have been waiting to start medication for my HIV. It is such a relief to be able to start treatment.”

FPHNYC helps identify funding and facilitates public-private partnerships to advance new public health initiatives. Since 2016, FPHNYC has received $1 million from MAC Cosmetic’s charitable foundation, the MAC AIDS Fund, to enhance DOHMH’s HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) services and programming. This funding facilitated immediate access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for Sexual Health Clinic patients newly diagnosed with HIV, enabling them to control their HIV and achieve and maintain viral suppression so that they do not transmit HIV to their sexual partners. The funding has also helped DOHMH improve the patient experience at the Sexual Health Clinics. With eight locations throughout the city, the Sexual Health Clinics offer safe and affirming spaces to patients of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions to access high-quality, status neutral prevention and treatment services. The Sexual Health Clinics see patients who are underserved, underinsured and have barriers to seeking medical care at a primary care facility. Expanding HIV and STI services at the Sexual Health Clinics is one of several NYC Ending the Epidemic strategies to reduce the number new HIV infections in New York City to non-epidemic levels and improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers with HIV.

MAC AIDS Fund provided funding for one of the DOHMH Sexual Health Clinics to pilot JumpstART, a program providing immediate access to ART for patients newly diagnosed with HIV. The successful program has since expanded to all eight Sexual Health Clinics. In 2016 and 2017, the Sexual Health Clinics initiated a total of 149 patients on ART, with 66 percent of them being newly or recently diagnosed with HIV. The MAC AIDS Fund is also helping DOHMH build an online patient portal for Sexual Health Clinic patients to check their HIV and STI test results, communicate with staff, and access educational materials regarding their sexual health.

In 2017, DOHMH announced that 2,157 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City, down 5.4 percent from 2016. More New Yorkers with HIV are receiving care and achieving viral suppression. Also in 2017, 80 percent of people were linked to care within 30 days of their HIV diagnosis, compared to 65 percent in 2013; and among people receiving HIV medical care in New York City in 2017, 85 percent were virally suppressed, compared to 79 percent in 2013. These data show that New York City is on track to achieving our ambitious NYC Ending the Epidemic goals. Together, FPHNYC, DOHMH, and the MAC AIDS Fund provided proof of concept before City funds committed to bringing JumpstART to scale, a critical step in our efforts to end the epidemic.

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