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MEDIA CONTACT:                                                            

Jeremiah Johnson                                                          James Krellenstein

(212) 253-7922                                                                   +1.516.865.7707

jeremiah.johnson (at) treatmentactiongroup.org         james (at) krellenstein.com

 

ACT UP\New York and TAG to Host Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Drastic Cuts to City’s HIV Testing and STD Screening Programs

 

NEW YORK CITY AUGUST 31, 2015 In response to disturbing trends in New York Citys response to the ongoing HIV and STD epidemics, ACT UP\New York and Treatment Action Group (TAG) will host a town hall meeting at the New York City LGBT Center on 13th Street in Manhattan at 6:30 PM on September 1, 2015. ACT UP and TAG seek to push the de Blasio administration to mitigate the massive citywide reduction of sexual health services in recent years, including the March 2015 closure of the Chelsea STD Clinic.

Starting in 2010, the City Government and its Health Department have significantly reduced vital services for the screening, treatment, and control of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This has included a drastic reduction in the number of HIV tests the City funds and performs.

The cuts resulted in a total of over 400,000 HIV tests being eliminated between 2010 and 2014, possibly resulting in the missed or delayed diagnosis of thousands of HIV-positive New Yorkers.

ACT UP/NY Opposes Closure of Chelsea Clinic

CLOSURE WILL RESULT IN MORE HIV and SYPHILIS INFECTIONS - ACTIVISTS BLAME HEALTH DEPARTMENT’S “EPIC INCOMPETENCE”

NEW YORK CITY – JUNE 3, 2015 – In March of 2015, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) shuttered the Chelsea STD clinic for multiyear renovations, without any prior notice or any realistic plan to remedy the grave public health consequences of this action. Conservative estimates project that, unless significant action is taken, the continued closure of the Chelsea clinic will result in tens of additional New Yorkers becoming infected with HIV each year, at a lifetime cost to the taxpayer of at least $4.45 million per year of clinic closure.

ACT UP/New York will be leading a large protest at noon on the west side of City Hall to demand that DOHMH and the de Blasio Administration immediately and transparently implement solutions that will fully make up for lost testing and treatment capacity caused by the clinic closure.

Chelsea remains the epicenter of the syphilis and HIV epidemics in the New York City, with the highest syphilis diagnosis rate in the nation and the highest HIV diagnosis rate in the city. The Chelsea clinic identified the highest number of early HIV infections—the most infectious stage of HIV infection—of any clinic within the five boroughs and represents nearly a quarter of the city’s STD testing and treatment capacity. Diagnosis and treatment of HIV and other STIs are one of the most effective methods of slowing the spread of these diseases.

"How many New Yorkers will be lost to testing because of this poorly planned clinic closing?" asked veteran ACT UP member Jim Eigo. "How many of them will become HIV positive? How many forward infections will this fuel? Every HIV infection costs New York about half a million dollars, and the cost to the New Yorker who will now have to live with a lifetime infection is incalculable."

The DOHMH and Mayor’s Office have known for over eight years that the clinic was going to close, yet no plans existed to make up for the services lost to the community. Activists find the contrast between the response to the ongoing syphilis and HIV emergencies—in which thousands of New Yorkers become newly infected each year—and the DOHMH’s response to the single Ebola case in late 2014, disturbing. The DOHMH spent over $4.5 million on Ebola in late 2014, yet refuses to publicly commit to any money to help fill the public health gaps left by the closure of the city’s busiest HIV and STD clinic.

“This is public health malpractice,” said James Krellenstein, a founding member of ACT UP NY’s Prevention Working Group, “to shut down the city’s leading point of care for the most vulnerable population without any real alternative is an egregious act that will inevitably result in more LGBT New Yorkers becoming infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

In meetings with activists over the past month, DOHMH officials, including STD director Dr. Susan Blank and Communicable Disease Chief Dr. Jay Varma, have failed to account for the lack of adequate planning and the negative public

Emergency Town Hall Meeting on HIV Epidemic in NYC

Syphilis Rate Map

The Chelsea STD Clinic on 9th Ave has been shuttered for renovations for 2-3 years. In the meantime, health officials are trying to send NY-ers to Riverside Clinic at 106th St. for STD testing, which will have a chilling effect on testing in the neighborhood.

Chelsea has the highest # of HIV, syphilis and gonorrhea diagnoses of any area in the country! That's WITH a clinic, so now's not the time to be reducing sexual health care for the largely LGBT clientele in Chelsea. Tell Mayor DeBlasio and City Hall that we won't stand for a CLOSED Chelsea clinic.

What: ACT UP For The Chelsea STD Clinic
When: Wed 6/3 at 12pm
Where: West Side of City Hall; corner of Murray and Broadway
Directions: Take the N,R to City Hall or the 4,5,6 to BK Bridge City Hall