Bellmore NY - March 20, 2015 - Pride for Youth (a program of Long Island Crisis Center), a leader in HIV prevention on Long Island since its inception in 1993, has launched a groundbreaking PrEP Assessment & Monitoring Program for young gay and bisexual (trans-inclusive) men, through age 30. Supported through a grant from the New York State Department of Health (DOH), this is the first program of its kind by a community-based organization on Long Island and one of only a handful statewide.
“Expanding access to PrEP is a key to ending the AIDS epidemic in New York State, and we commend Pride for Youth for helping lead the charge on Long Island,” said acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “PrEP has proven to be a tremendous prevention method, but it’s essential that people who use it understand the importance of continued condom use and the need to comply with PrEP’s strict medication regimen.”
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a new, FDA approved, HIV prevention method in which individuals who are not HIV positive take a pill (Truvada) a day to prevent infection. When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92% according to the Centers for Disease Control. PrEP is one of the three main components of Gov. Cuomo’s End AIDS 2020 Campaign that was launched last June.
Pride for Youth’s PrEP Program is an expansion of its partnership with the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV that has already included HIV testing, outreach and greater access to healthcare for young men. Pride for Youth staff conduct initial assessments followed by active referrals to North Shore-LIJ for medical evaluation and formal enrollment for PrEP. Pride for Youth and North Shore-LIJ staff partner to provide ongoing support, monitoring and risk-reduction education to all clients. Initial assessments and monitoring are provided free of charge with health insurance or Medicaid required for medical services and prescriptions. All services are also available in Spanish. In addition, assessment and monitoring is available for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), antiviral drugs that are used after a single, high-risk event to prevent HIV infection.
“Our PrEP program is an evolution of not only our commitment to HIV prevention, but also our partnership with North Shore-LIJ to provide culturally competent healthcare to young gay/bisexual men and transgender individuals throughout Long Island and Queens. PrEP empowers individuals to responsibly take charge of their sex lives and healthcare. Our program has been met with great enthusiasm and we’ve been enrolling clients since December 2014,” states Pete Carney, Director of Pride for Youth. “We are proud to have a role in bringing Governor Cuomo’s End AIDS 2020 Campaign to fruition.”
David Rosenthal, DO, PhD, Medical Director for the North Shore-LIJ Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV, said, “Our partnership with Pride for Youth brings together the North Shore-LIJ Health System and an LGBTQ-focused community-based organization to work together to serve our community. Together, our agencies can provide the most comprehensive care for our clients. In working with Pride for Youth, we are finding new cases of HIV, helping patients with HIV get back into appropriate medical care, and preventing the spread of HIV in Long Island and Queens with PrEP as the backbone of our HIV prevention strategy. This relationship expands our ability to provide culturally sensitive medical care in an LGBTQ-friendly environment, which helps bring us closer to achieving the ‘End AIDS 2020 Campaign’.”