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Bill De Blasio, Andrew Cuomo pitch efforts to fight AIDS

Members of the New York Gay Men's Chorus

Members of the New York Gay Men's Chorus perform as the names of people who have died of HIV/AIDS appear on a screen at a World AIDS Day gathering in Harlem on Tuesday. The event, at the historic Apollo Theater, brought together over 60 AIDS-service and community-based organizations and the NYC Department Of Health And Mental Hygiene to celebrate World Aids Day. Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

New York City officials announced Tuesday — on World AIDS Day — that they will put $23 million in new annual funding toward prevention and treatment to stop the disease.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, speaking separately at the same event at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, said his administration will seek financial and programmatic commitments of $200 million toward housing, life insurance and other programs. The funds would come on top of $2.5 billion that the state currently spends combatting HIV/AIDS.

In the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will — among other efforts — expand the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) housing, nutrition and transportation assistance to all New Yorkers with HIV or AIDS, regardless of whether they show symptoms. The HASA program is currently limited to those who have AIDS or symptomatic HIV.

The city has 120,000 New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS, 80 percent of the state’s cases, de Blasio said. The city seeks to steadily lower its number of cases in line with the statewide goal of no more than 750 new infections annually by 2020.

City Council member Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), who is HIV positive, at the event said the city’s new funding aligns with Cuomo’s blueprint to fight the virus.

City health officials said the city last year had a historic-low 2,718 residents who were newly diagnosed compared with 4,397 new cases in 2004.

“We can beat this epidemic with our existing tools,” City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett told reporters. Resources include the distribution of free condoms, the #PlaySure media campaign to encourage safe sex practices and access to treatments such as the pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis medications known as PrEP and PEP.

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