Politicians across the country and in New York issued statements commemorating World AIDS Day, which honors the millions of people whose lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Last year, the estimated number of new infections slightly increased among men who have sex with men, though the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City decreased. In 2022 1,624 New Yorkers were newly diagnosed with HIV, while health officials estimated there were 1,241 new infections. A recent national study also found the amount of people with HIV considered undetectable has plateaued since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while decreasing for Black Americans.
In a proclamation, President Joe Biden declared Dec. 1 World AIDS Day.
“We are within striking distance of eliminating HIV transmission,” the statement read. “We have the science. We have the treatments. Most of all, we have each other. On this 35th World AIDS Day — let us honor all the families who have lost a loved one to this disease and all the people currently living with HIV/AIDS.”
“At home, my administration has taken historic steps to achieve this goal,” Biden said. “During my first year in office, I reestablished the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and launched a new National HIV/AIDS Strategy — a roadmap for using innovative community-driven solutions to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States by 2030.”
The Biden administration also asked Congress for $850 million to fund the Department of Health and Human Services’ Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, the statement said, which would increase access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — a critical drug that can help prevent the spread of HIV.
At the same time, advocates such as Carl Schmid, the executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, recently criticized the Biden administration for pushing back against a district court ruling affirming a rule that health insurers must count drug manufacturer copay assistance towards a beneficiary’s out-of-pocket costs.
Here is how other elected officials acknowledged World AIDS Day:
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement: “On World AIDS Day, we mourn those we’ve lost to this epidemic. We also honor New Yorkers currently fighting this disease — while we’ve made progress in reducing HIV infections across the state, we know there is more work to be done.”
Landmarks across the state, including One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building, will be let up red on Friday evening in recognition of the epidemic, she announced.
Out New York City Councilmember Crystal Hudson of Brooklyn wrote on X: “Today, we recognize #WorldAIDSDay. We remember the lives of the neighbors we lost and recommit ourselves to expanding the resources that offer people living with HIV/AIDS tangible services and rethinking our government’s approach to care, grounding it in empathy and respect.”
Lynn Schulmann of Queens, also an out New York City Councilmember, wrote on X that she remembered her close friend Richard, who was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in the early 1980s and subsequently died of AIDS complications. “Today, we remember those who died, & those who are sick & still struggling,” she wrote. “We have come far, but the journey continues until AIDS is no more.”
Out gay Congressmember Ritchie Torres, who represents sections of the Bronx, wrote on X: “We have the tools to prevent AIDS-related deaths. On this #WorldAIDSDay I am joining my colleagues in the @EqualityCaucus to encourage testing, promote education, and end stigmas about HIV & AIDS.”
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said in a video on X: “The best way we can honor the millions of people affected by the AIDS epidemic is by coming together to combat the prejudice and stigma associated with AIDS and to make sure that all who need treatment have access.”
“On this #WorldAIDSDay we must remember friends [sic.] relatives and members of our community who we have lost through the scourge of HIV/AIDS and work to eradicate the disease,” out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan posted on X.
Out Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell of Manhattan also spoke out on X for World AIDS Day: “Today, we remember those we’ve lost to HIV-related illnesses & reaffirm our commitment to supporting those living with HIV/AIDS. In the U.S., about 1.1M people live with HIV, with 15% (~165K) unaware of their status. The importance of accurate HIV education cannot be overstated.”
“On this #WorldAIDSDay, we remember lives we’ve lost to the epidemic as we fight for equity + justice alongside those living with & impacted by HIV/AIDS,” out Queens Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas said on X. “There’s still so much we must do to #EndAIDS in NY including funding NYS-wide housing for PLWHA, OPCs & expanding PrEP access.”
“The Bronx unfortunately has some of the highest rates of HIV and AIDS” in New York City, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said in a short social media video. “I need all of you to join us today on World AIDS Day, affirming your commitment to being a part of ending the epidemic. Get tested, know your status.”
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said on X: “When the AIDS epidemic began, NYC was hit harder than any other city in the US. Today, on World AIDS Day, I’m thinking of the lives lost and the people who continue to live with HIV/AIDS in BK. We must reaffirm our commitment to preventing and eradicating AIDS once and for all.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards posted on X, writing, “Today is #WorldAIDSDay, a day to both honor those we’ve lost to an AIDS related illness and commit to ensuring that a day will come where no one dies from this disease. That means investment in prevention, testing and care here in The World’s Borough and across the world.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams was slated to host a World AIDS Day event at City Hall on Dec. 1.