New York City Mayor Bloomberg Announces Formation of 20-Member Commission on AIDS; City To Offer One-Hour HIV Test
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) on Monday announced the formation of a 20-member Commission on AIDS and said that the city next year will offer a one-hour HIV test to all residents, the New York Post reports. The new commission is expected to help shape HIV/AIDS policy and will consist of city officials, scientists and social-service providers. Bloomberg said that the city would offer the rapid test because the long wait for results from the traditional HIV test discouraged people from taking the test and because many people do not return to obtain their results. He added that "in the meantime, if they had to wait a long time, perhaps other people were infected." According to the New York City Department of Health, there are 80,862 people living with HIV/AIDS in the city, 44% of whom are black and 31.8% of whom are Latino. New York City represents 3% of the U.S. population but has 16% of the country's AIDS cases (Edozien, New York Post, 12/2). There were 5,417 new HIV infections in the city in 2002, according to the health department, the New York Daily News reports. City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said that the number of AIDS cases among injection drug users and infants has decreased, and he added that he hopes to gain support for a needle-exchange program in Queens, according to the Daily News. Needle-exchange programs already operate in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Some AIDS advocates were "disappointed" by Bloomberg's announcement, according to the Daily News. "Why are we having yet another commission to reexamine data we already know?" Keith Cylar, co-president of Housing Works, asked, adding, "I would have hoped the mayor would say he is funding a needle-exchange program" (Colangelo, New York Daily News, 12/2). The mayor made his announcement during a ceremony to commemorate World AIDS Day (New York Post, 12/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.