NEW YORK — ACT UP New York and its allies held a protest last week at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sparked by recent funding cuts to the city’s PEP program (post-exposure prophylaxis), what they say is a lack of awareness campaigns about the availability of HIV-prevention drugs (both pre- and post-exposure to HIV) and what they contend has been misleading data, the group said in a press release.
The group is calling the current rates the “second wave” of HIV/AIDS or “AIDS 2.0.”
“PEP and PrEP are lifesaving drug regimens that can prevent HIV infection, yet few know about their availability,” the press release said. “The city has chosen not to alert citizens about either drug in hopes of stemming demand, even though knowledge of either drug can save lives.”
“The good intentions of Mayor Bloomberg and his incompetent Health Department have given us a new HIV Emergency that relies on 30-year-old tactics and bad science to hide this disaster,” said Jeton Ademaj of ACT UP.
“New York City spends little to none of its own money on HIV prevention. The (Department of Health) relies on federal funding and chooses to abandon HIV prevention when faced with funding cuts, rather than fund prevention itself. The lives of New Yorkers are worth (the Department’s) money,” he said in the press release.
About 25 participated, according to Towleroad.
In an e-mail response to Out, the department said, “We stand by the favorable results we have achieved in reducing citywide morbidity and mortality associated with HIV and in the quality of our data.” It cited $22.4 million set aside for HIV prevention in its current budget.