May 10, 2015

Locally Speaking

NY Governor Cuomo Releases Blueprint to End AIDS by 2020

In an April 29 ceremony in front of Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formally accepted the blueprint to end the AIDS epidemic in the Empire State by 2020, according to a press release from the state.

The blueprint was created last fall by a task force of 63 HIV advocates and experts at Cuomo’s request. In January 2015, the task force submitted the blueprint, but the governor had not formally accepted it or released it until now.

Last June, Cuomo announced a three-point plan to reduce the number of new annual HIV infections to 750 from an estimated 3,000. The three points are (1) identifying more people who are HIV positive and linking them to care, (2) retaining people in care and helping them maintain undetectable viral levels, and (3) providing more access to pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP).

The state Department of Health appointed the task force with the job of suggesting how best to achieve those goals. The resulting 30 recommendations comprise the blueprint to ending the AIDS epidemic. The recommendations address acute HIV infections, homelessness, hepatitis C and other related topics.

According to the state’s press release, “In the 2015–16 budget, Governor Cuomo included $10 million to support End of the Epidemic in New York State. The budget also removed the requirement for individuals in correctional facilities to give written consent for HIV testing, encouraged high-risk populations to use condoms by prohibiting prosecutors from using them as evidence in prostitution cases, and made it legal to possess syringes obtained through a syringe access program.”

A press release by Treatment Action Group (TAG) stated that “a public release of this blueprint will galvanize the fiscal and legislative support needed to end the epidemic.”

A previous report by TAG and Housing Works predicted that the plan will save the state $4.5 billion in Medicaid by 2020. –Source: POZ

Christie Was Aware Of Bridge Scandal, Poll Says
A majority of New Jersey voters don't believe Gov. Chris Christie personally ordered the George Washington Bridge lane closures that rocked his administration. But nearly just as many believe he was aware of them, according to a new poll.

Fifty-seven percent of New Jersey voters say Christie did not personally order the traffic jams that snarled traffic in the town of Fort Lee for nearly a week, compared to 32 percent who think he did, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday. But a majority — 53 percent to 38 percent — say he was aware of Bridgegate as opposed to being left in the dark.

"Did Gov. Christopher Christie cause Bridgegate? Most voters say no. Did he know about it? Most think he did," said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Poll.

Christie has insisted he was "blindsided" by the scandal that reached top staffers in his administration.

A federal probe into the bridge access lane closures is still pending.

If it's proven Christie ordered the lane closures or knew what his aides were doing at the time, 34 percent of voters want Christie removed from office and 29 percent say he should be removed and prosecuted, according to the poll. Twenty-nine percent say an apology is enough.

The poll also found Christie's job approval hit another low with 56 percent of New Jersey voters disapproving of his work and only 38 percent who said they approve.

A majority of blue sate New Jersey voters also said Christie would not make a good president.

The poll was conducted from April 9-14 and surveyed 1,428 New Jersey voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. The survey included 444 Republicans with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points and 539 Democratic voters with a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points. –Source: Nj

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