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De Blasio promises new AIDS funding, but wants more money from state
 
 
  http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/12/8584259/de-blasio-promises-new-aids-funding-wants-more-money-state
 
Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to announce Tuesday that he is committing $23 million toward combating HIV/AIDS, money that can be used to expand access to pre-exposure prophylactics and anti-retroviral therapies.
 
The mayor, who will make the announcement during a speech at the Apollo Theater in Harlem to commemorate World AIDS Day, also intends to call for expanding HIV/AIDS Services Administration benefits, which would require cooperation from a governor he is openly at odds with.
 
HASA offers housing, food and transportation assistance to 32,000 people. Expanding the program to the 7,300 HIV-infected New Yorkers who do not qualify for benefits is expected to cost $99 million per year. There is no agreement on where that money would come from, though the de Blasio administration would like to have it settled by the summer of 2017.
 
De Blasio's announcement comes amid a steady stream of positive news for HIV advocates and increasing funding from both the mayor and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is also scheduled to speak at the Apollo.
 
The governor preempted the mayor's announcement on Monday, pledging an additional $200 million in state funds to combat HIV/AIDS.
 
The money, according to a press release from Cuomo's office, will go toward expanding affordable housing, making life insurance available for people between 30 and 60 years old and toward STD clinics.
 
The Cuomo administration did not respond to a request for comment on how much money would be spent on those projects, and it is unclear whether any of the funding will be used to expand HASA.
 
De Blasio's announcement follows the City Council's commitment to provide $6.6 million to expand access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which can prevent people from contracting HIV.
 
"New York City is fully committed to ensuring the health and security of all our residents," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "Our comprehensive plan will drastically reduce new HIV infections and will provide expanded supportive services for all New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS."
 
Expanding HASA has long been a goal of HIV advocates who believe housing assistance is crucial to keeping people well. Stable environments, they say, help ensure that people continue their medication and seek treatment to suppress their viral loads.
 
HASA rules now require a city resident to have an AIDS diagnosis or a symptomatic HIV infection meaning a T-Cell count of 200 or less or two other opportunistic infections before they are eligible for social services such as rental assistance and food stamps.
 
That means a lot of people have to become sicker before they are eligible for government benefits at the same time the government is trying to keep people well.
 
"This is just huge," Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, said of de Blasio's planned announcement. "If you asked me what the single biggest cost in ending the epidemic is that isn't covered by Medicaid or other types of insurance, it's insuring that every person living with HIV is stably housed. Between what the governor is planning to announce and what the mayor's planning to announce, if we can negotiate the right type of arrangement, it would give us enough resources to ensure that every New Yorker who is living with HIV has housing security."
 
King said the city and state should split the cost for expanding HASA. The city now pays 70 percent of HASA costs, while the state chips in 30 percent. So, in theory, if the proportions were to hold, the city would be on the hook for an additional $70 million per year, though some of that could be recouped from reducing the sheltered population.
 
But the de Blasio administration has not committed a specific dollar figure, saying only it intends to work with the state.
 
Cuomo, who recently said the mayor couldn't manage a homeless crisis, and de Blasio, who accused the governor of "political posturing," have had a less than stellar working relationship, which is bound to make negotiating difficult for both sides.
 
Cuomo has released a plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020, which would mean reducing the number of new infections to fewer than 750, below what is considered epidemic levels.
 
There are approximately 3,000 new HIV cases reported each year statewide, according to the state Health Department, and about 129,000 people living with HIV in New York, the overwhelming majority of whom live in New York City.

 
 
 
 
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