NYC Reports Reduced HIV/AIDS-Related Deaths

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New York City has made significant progress in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths, increasing voluntary HIV testing rates and distributing no-cost condoms during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Mayor's Management Report, the New York Daily News reports. The report, released Wednesday, found that HIV/AIDS-related deaths during FY 2008 decreased by 8% to 1,108. In addition, voluntary HIV testing increased by 18%, and there was almost an 120% increase in no-cost condom distribution, up from 18 million during the previous year to 39 million in FY 2008 (Lombardi, New York Daily News, 9/17).

The annual report assesses the city government's performance in 1,219 indicators. According to the New York Times, 3,305 new AIDS cases were recorded among adults in FY 2008, which is 410 fewer than in the previous fiscal year and 2,020 fewer than in FY 2004. New syphilis cases rose by 20% largely because of unsafe sexual behavior among men, the Times reports (Santos, New York Times, 9/18).

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spent $1,054,228 on condoms in FY 2008, but the figure does not include the cost of about two million female condoms, the New York Post reports. Advocates of the condom distribution efforts said the cost is small compared with the lifelong cost of treating an HIV-positive individual. A department spokesperson said its goal for this fiscal year is to distribute 51.6 million condoms.



HIV/AIDS advocates praised the city's efforts to fight the disease and other sexually transmitted infections through the scaled up condom distribution program, the Post reports. Marie Saint Cyr, director of the New York AIDS Coalition, said, "It is a very important strategy. People do pick [the condoms] up." Ofelia Barrios, director of programs at the Latino Commission on AIDS, added that even faith-based organizations involved in HIV/AIDS prevention programs welcome the no-cost condoms.

Marjorie Hill, director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, applauded the city for its work but called for more training to ensure that people who pick up the condoms get their partners to use them (Seifman, New York Post, 9/18). Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "The statistics contained in this report show that we are continuing to improve service quality in critical areas" (New York Daily News, 9/17).

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