Amida Care Releases Policy Brief on How the Pandemic Has Affected New York’s Effort to End the HIV Epidemic
October 22 2020
Amida Care released a policy brief on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted New York’s effort to end the HIV epidemic. “A Pandemic and an Epidemic: COVID-19 and Ending HIV in New York” outlines recommendations for public health agencies, health plans and providers, and all New Yorkers on ways to increase PrEP uptake, strengthen Medicaid, and break down barriers to access for HIV prevention and treatment. The policy brief was released in conjunction with an online panel discussion co-hosted by Amida Care and Gay City News. Experts discussed how the pandemic has affected efforts to expand PrEP uptake and provide access to HIV testing and treatment, in the lead-up to the New York State AIDS Institute’s annual PrEP Aware Week (Oct. 25-31).
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented great challenges to the health of New Yorkers, and HIV-related health care is no exception,” said Doug Wirth, President and CEO of Amida Care. “But the pandemic has also presented us with a number of learning opportunities. This report outlines ways that we can think creatively, act strategically, and promote health equity and accessibility to ensure that we help New York realize an HIV-free future.”
New York State was making steady progress towards its goal of Ending the HIV Epidemic by 2020, but COVID-19 has presented challenges to health care across the board, and the effects are far-reaching. In an effort to maintain the momentum towards an HIV-free future, the report A Pandemic and an Epidemic: COVID-19 and Ending HIV in New York makes a number of recommendations for government, health plans, providers, and individuals. These include, but are not limited to:
- Focus education, prevention, and treatment efforts on communities placed at elevated risk for HIV, including Black and Latinx communities, communities experiencing systemic oppressors (including food insecurity and housing instability), people of transgender experience, and people with a history of injection drug use.
- Strengthen access to Medicaid, and ensure that Medicaid enrollees are aware that PrEP is available to them.
- Implement a quality measure for health plans to track progress towards HIV goals.
- Improve access to sexual health services including HIV tests and PrEP discussion upon STI diagnosis.
- Support immediate initiation of antiretroviral therapy (iART), which is shown to improve viral suppression and increase retention in care.
- Implement cultural competency training and care for all staff in health care settings, including non-clinical staff.
To view a copy of “A Pandemic and an Epidemic: COVID-19 and Ending HIV in New York,” click here.