HIV/AIDS activists say they want to end AIDS in New York City, and they are looking to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio for help. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers are estimated to be HIV positive, but only a fraction of them have AIDS. Activists say they want that fraction to disappear altogether so that AIDS disappears altogether from New York City.
"HIV infection is that. It's getting the virus. AIDS, on the other hand, is really about being sick enough to have an AIDS diagnosis," said Daniel Tietz of the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. "The idea would certainly be that no one gets to that place anymore. We know how to keep people from getting AIDS."
Tietz helped lead a discussion about the fighting HIV and AIDS in New York City at the Talking Transition tent. Dozens of activists and advocates turned out for the talk, breaking into smaller groups to brainstorm ways to move forward.
"If given additional support in regards to funding, allocating more funding towards housing, towards food, towards HIV testing, ensuring that people that are HIV positive are in care, we know that we can end the epidemic," said Ophelia Barrios of Iris Hope, an HIV/AIDS service provider.
They are looking forward to making their case to a new mayor. Many in the crowd said that they actively supported Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.
"This is the year. This year, next year, this is the years that you're going to be held accountable," said Wayne Starts of VOCAL-NY. "No more Bloomberg stuff."
HIV/AIDS activists have clashed with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Funding for their programs was cut in the mayor's proposed budgets. The City Council often restored the money later.
"He has just pretty much been a tough person to work with, for lack of a better word, for the HIV/AIDS community," said Jason Walker of VOCAL-NY. "We see Bill de Blasio as an oasis to this desert Bloomberg has created. And the events that we are having here today to talk about this is to help ensure that Bill de Blasio's image of an oasis isn't a mirage."
Expectations are certainly high for de Blasio. The question for these activists is whether he can deliver.