Can One Pill Each Day Prevent HIV?


HIV/AIDS Press Conference
Pictured during a recent press conference discussing the PrEP program are (from left to right): Dr. David Rosenthal; Justin Toro and Pete Carney.

NEW HYDE PARK, NY – Medical professionals from the North Shore-LIJ Health System joined today at Cohen Children’s Medical Center with activists from the  LGBTQ community and representatives from Pride for Youth to announce a partnership aimed at curbing the high rate of HIV infection.  

The goal of the partnership between North Shore-LIJ’s Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV and Pride for Youth, part of the LI Crisis Center in Bellmore, is to promote PrEP by providing access to the drug Truvada and other necessary medical/social services to high-risk persons to keep them HIV negative.

It is believed to be the first such arrangement on Long Island between a major medical center and a community organization dedicated to the lesbian, gay, transgender and questioning youth  population.

According to the latest statistics, more than 5,700 people are living with HIV/AIDS, and Long Island has the highest number of AIDS cases among suburban areas in the United States.

“Knowledge is power,” said David Rosenthal, DO, PhD, Medical Director, Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV. “Instead of refusing to be tested because you’re afraid of the aftermath, we are urging people to come in to this very safe, non-judgmental environment that we’ve created in order to get all the information about your individual condition.

“Of course, we’re hoping that people will engage in safe behaviors and wear condoms, but if that’s not the case all of the time, we want to make it known that PrEP is available.”

Pete Carney, LCSW, the director of Pride for Youth, called the partnership “the next step forward” in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. He revealed the shocking statistic that there are fewer than 2,000 people in the United States taking advantage of PrEP.

“Whether it’s because it’s only become available in the last couple of years or because of the stigma attached, this is not widely used and the numbers on Long Island continue to grow,” he said.

“What’s most exciting about this is that now, the young gay and bisexual members of our community can receive the care they need regarding their sexual health.”

Justin Toro, LMSW, is a social worker who specializes in the care of adolescent AIDS patients. Mr. Toro is an ardent advocate for PrEP.

 “For too long, young men have been afraid to ask for Truvada because they were afraid of the stigma attached to admitting their high-risk behavior. We continue to emphasize that Truvada is a commitment—it must be taken daily in the proper dose.

“But,” he concluded, “it’s important to remember that this is another option for our clients. Years ago, a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was a death sentence. Now, we consider this a chronic condition, much like heart disease. There are options available…there is hope.”

 During the press conference announcing the partnership, the speakers announced that a PrEP Community Forum, hosted by North Shore-LIJ and Pride for Youth, was scheduled Dec. 10 to provide insight into the program by specially-trained health and human service professionals. For more information, contact Pride for Youth at (516) 679-9000. Or, to learn more about North Shore-LIJ’s Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV, call (516) 622-5070.

 

About North Shore-LIJ Health System
One of the nation's largest health systems, North Shore-LIJ delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, and healthcare coverage to individuals, families and businesses through the CareConnect Insurance Co. Inc. North Shore-LIJ cares for people at every stage of life at 19 hospitals and more than 400 outpatient physician practices throughout the region. North Shore-LIJ’s owned hospitals and long-term care facilities house more than 6,400 beds, employ nearly 11,000 nurses and have affiliations with about 10,000 physicians. With a workforce of about 54,000, North Shore-LIJ is the largest private employer in New York State.  For more information, go to www.northshorelij.com.

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