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Blueprint to Action: Amida Care Participates in End of Aids Epidemic Conference

July 8, 2015

Community leaders, policy makers, health care providers, and consumers came together on July 8 for a conference, “Ending AIDS 2020: Blueprint to Action,” to discuss ways to advance the recommendations outlined in New York State’s Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic.

Tracie M. Gardner, Assistant Secretary for Health in the New York State Governor’s Office, represented Governor Cuomo, who issued a statement saying, “Today, we are taking action to help stop new HIV infections and make the AIDS epidemic a relic of the past in New York State. By enacting these key parts of our action plan, we are creating a national model to battle the spread of this disease and end this nightmare once and for all.” Read the Governor’s full press release.

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Charles King, Doug Wirth and Dr. Matthew Weissman at the Blueprint to ACTION Conference.

In a panel moderated by Amida Care’s President and CEO Doug Wirth, Jason Helgerson, Medicaid Director at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), announced that the state has successfully negotiated volume-based discounts with manufacturers of antiretroviral (ARV) medications. This will allow Medicaid to double the number of state residents who get access to ARV treatment. ARVs have been proven to lower viral loads to undetectable levels, significantly improving the health of people living with HIV and reducing the chances of transmission.

Doug Wirth applauded the efforts of the NYSDOH. “Ensuring that all HIV-positive New Yorkers have access to life-saving medication and then providing the resources and support needed to help them achieve viral suppression is one of the cornerstones of the Blueprint,” he said. “We are making significant progress identifying resources and allocating funds, thanks in part to the advocacy and activism of so many community members and the partnership and commitment of Governor Cuomo and the state Department of Health.” Amida Care, the largest Medicaid special-needs health plan in New York State, has a 93 percent success rate in getting HIV-positive members on ARV medication and a 70 percent viral load suppression rate among its members.

In his closing remarks, Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works, said, “Implementing the Blueprint demands a tight collaboration among legislators, government agencies, community-based organizations, community organizers, providers, and consumers. We have to continue our advocacy efforts to make sure that all aspects of the Blueprint are funded and implemented. We also have to enhance our efforts not only to educate our communities about ARVs, viral suppression, and treatments like PrEP, but also engage them in care. It will take all of us to end AIDS.”