New York City Mayor Bloomberg Announces City Will Restructure HIV/AIDS Services, Will Support Needle-Exchange Program
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) yesterday announced that the city will reorganize its HIV/AIDS services delivery, having all agencies report to a single coordinator in order to improve accountability, the Long Island Newsday reports. In addition, Bloomberg "surprised" AIDS advocates by announcing that his administration will support a needle-exchange program, which former Mayor Rudolph Guiliani (R) "ignored," according to Newsday. Speaking at the 11th Annual Community Planning Leadership Summit in Manhattan, Bloomberg said that New York City could do a much better job in combating the disease. New York City represents 3% of the U.S. population but has 16% of the country's AIDS cases, a ratio the mayor called "unacceptable," according to Newsday. All city HIV/AIDS services agencies, both public and private, will now report to Frank Oldham, the recently appointed citywide coordinator for AIDS policy (Taylor, Long Island Newsday, 3/14). Bloomberg said that he wants to make New York City the "national model" for meeting the federal goal of cutting new HIV infections in half by 2005, according to the New York Daily News. The city will employ a new "state-of-the-art" blood test that determines whether individuals have been infected with the virus in the past six months, which will provide "invaluable information" for prevention efforts, Bloomberg said, according to the Daily News. "It will tell us which communities are experiencing increases in infection rates, and thus, which prevention strategies are working and which ones are not," he said (Saul, New York Daily News, 3/14). Terri Smith-Caronia, director of New York City policy for Housing Works, the largest AIDS housing provider in the state, said Bloomberg's words were "encouraging," adding, "We actually believed him when he said he wanted to eradicate HIV/AIDS in New York City" (Long Island Newsday, 3/14). Gina Quattrochi, executive director of Bailey House, which provides housing to homeless people with AIDS, said she was "cautiously optimistic," adding, "We have been pushing for this speech for 15 months. We regret that it didn't come sooner" (New York Daily News, 3/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.