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New York City Declares Racism A Public Health Crisis


Can the growing number of these type of declarations help people of color living with HIV?

Earlier this week, the New York City Board of Health joined the growing list of local and national organizations that have declared racism a public health crisis. This movement is supported by the American Public Health Association, which keeps a tally of such national declarations on its website, as well as an in-depth analysis of the strategy’s effectiveness and progress. 

In NYC’s declaration, guidelines were issued to implement a more “racially just” recovery from the pandemic, according to NBC News.

“To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis,” said Dr. David A. Chokshi, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the board’s chair, in a statement. “The Covid-19 pandemic magnified inequalities, leading to suffering disproportionally borne by communities of color in our city and across the nation.”

The harsh reality of these disparities were reinforced by a study released earlier this month by researchers with the National Cancer Institute. It concluded that Covid-19 killed a disproportionate number of Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans in 2020 and intensified health disparities among these groups.

In April of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared racism a “serious threat” to national public health — making it the largest U.S.-based health agency to single out racism as a national health crisis to disproportionate mortality rates.

The also board gave its recommendations to the health department, including examining in-place policies that may be contributing to systemic racism and forming groups to provide a checks-and-balances approach to maintaining equality in policies.

The American Public Health Association reported that since 2019, over 70 cities, three dozen counties, and three states have declared racism a public health crisis. In terms of people of color living with HIV, activists are hopeful that these declarations could end up having a huge, positive impact on things like access to testing, prevention methods like PrEP, treatment, and other crucial needs. 

RELATED: Racial Justice, an Indispensable Part of Ending the HIV Epidemic 

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