New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced legislation he claims would end the “HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State” by 2020 through several new proposals, including one that allows minors the right to receive HIV treatment as well as preventative services like PrEP without parental consent.
Currently the state of New York allows minors to be tested for STDs and receive treatment without parental consent. However, when it comes to treating HIV, minors are not allowed to receive antiretroviral medications without consent of a parent or guardian.
Seeing as people between the ages of 13 and 24 made up 22% of new HIV cases in 2014, according to the CDC, delaying treatment in minors will lead to progression, which increases the odds of transmitting the virus to other minors. The new law gives minors a chance to receive treatment on their own, while also allowing them to obtain PrEP, which makes it virtually impossible to get infected.
According to Cuomo’s announcement, since proposing his plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York, prescriptions for Truvada as PrEP have more than tripled among people enrolled in Medicaid, and more than $20 million in new funding has been spread out through multiple programs initiatives. As a result, 6,000 HIV-positive people will be provided with treatment who wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
"New York State is leading by example in the fight against AIDS and the initiatives in this legislation are key to building on the progress we have already made," Governor Cuomo said. "By increasing access to testing and breaking down barriers to treatment, New York has taken a holistic approach to ending the AIDS epidemic. We will not relent until this horrific disease is nothing but a distant memory."
While Governor Cuomo spearheads progress in HIV prevention, some say more work needs to be done to tackle the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS which stems all the way back to the early days of the disease.
“I mean if that’s what it’s going to take to get them into treatment, you do what you have to do to get healthy,” HIV activist Michael Deeb said to WKBA. He went on to say that the proposed law is a double-edged sword. “They’re still a child so the parent is still responsible for them. When I got diagnosed I was a mess, I needed to be around my family. I’m very hopeful you know, I’m very hopeful we make a lot of progression every single day and I only hope to see it go further and reach our goal by 2020.”
In addition to allowing minors to receive treatment and preventative measures without parental consent, Cuomo’s legislation will also expand opportunities for registered nurses to test for STDs while increasing access to PrEP through pharmacies and promotion.
The legislation also introduces a new way to share data by allowing HIV-related information to be shared by care coordinators and care managers through a linked network.