World AIDS Day Observance Held at State Museum - Individuals/Organizations Serving Children with HIV/AIDS Honored
Individuals/Organizations Serving Children with HIV/AIDS Honored
Albany, November 30 – New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H. marked this year's observance of World AIDS Day by honoring individuals and organizations from across the State for extraordinary dedication to children with HIV/AIDS.
"The 1999 World AIDS Day theme is 'End the Silence–Listen, Learn, Live' and we can learn much from those we honor today," Dr. Novello said. "As individuals and as organizations, they have opened their hearts and their arms to the youngest of those affected by this terrible epidemic. They have heard a cry for help and have responded. Day by day, and in countless ways they have taught us to reply to ignorance with tolerance, and to answer fear and aversion with courage and compassion. Through their collective example, they are teaching us how to live.
AIDS does not discriminate by race, gender, sexual orientation or age. Despite promising new therapies and the hope of longer lives for persons with HIV/AIDS, the struggle is far from over. Under Governor Pataki's leadership, we will continue to fight for the lives of infected and affected children until our World AIDS Day observances are not only a memorial to those whose lives have been lost but also the celebration of life and a cure."
Fifteen individuals and four organizations received awards in a ceremony conducted on the Terrace Gallery of the New York State Museum, where panels from the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt are on display. Award nominations were submitted from Ryan White CARE networks throughout New York and by the State Health Department AIDS Institute staff. Dr. Novello presented awards to the following:
Northeast Region (Glens Falls) Dianne Donovan, president and founder of Positively Kids, Inc. and mother of two adopted children who are living with AIDS;
Central New York (Syracuse) Pediatric & Adolescent Infectious Disease and Immunology Center;
Southern Tier Ideal Senior Living AIDS Home Care Program;
Rochester Eileen Monaghan, a nationally–recognized advocate for children with HIV/AIDS and mother of an HIV+ son;
Buffalo Parents and Children Together Program of Children's Hospital;
Bronx Lorraine Montenegro, Executive Director of United Bronx Parents, and a tireless advocate for children and families infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS;
East New York/Brownsville (Brooklyn) Hylda Clarke, who through who her work with Family Together, has been an activist for racial tolerance and cultural understanding. She also is chairperson for the Grandparents Anonymous support group for those who are raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS;
Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights (Brooklyn) Benjamin Bush, at first a foster parent of an HIV+ child, Mr. Bush adopted the youngster and helped her battle both HIV and colon cancer;
Brooklyn Dr. Herman Mendez, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn and Director of the Pediatric Maternal HIV Center at University Hospital and Kings County Hospital Center. Dr. Mendez' efforts have extended beyond hospital walls to cover the needs of HIV infected/affected children throughout the entire borough of Brooklyn;
Sister Elizabeth Mullane, M.S.N., ACRN, Director of St. Vincent's Positive Caring Services, whose dedication, compassion and skill as a public health nurse administrator has significantly improved the lives of hundreds of children and families touched by HIV;
Queens Staff and volunteers for the Visiting Nurse Service's Community Outreach to Children and Adolescents of Parents with HIV/AIDS program: Christopher Casey, Lindy Friedman, Thai Nguyen and Susan Piowaty–Vasquez;
Central Harlem Ann Parnell, a foster parent of two HIV+ children, a 6–year–old and an infant, whose devotion to their welfare has led her to become an outspoken advocate for children with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Parnell has already adopted her older child and hopes to adopt the infant, as well;
Manhattan Dr. Stephen Nicholas, Executive Director, Incarnation Children's Center, an internationally–recognized convalescent facility caring for the most sick infants, toddlers and school–age children with AIDS;
Staten Island Justin LiGreci, an HIV+ teenager who has devoted himself to educating other young people about HIV and how they can avoid getting infected. Justin also spoke at the awards ceremony;
Long Island Martina Arce, who adopted her bother's three sons, two of whom are HIV+, after he died of AIDS. While caring for the children, Ms. Arce has become an outspoken and respected advocate for adolescents with HIV/AIDS.
Nearly 137,000 individuals have been diagnosed with AIDS in New York State and approximately 52,000 people are living with the disease. Thanks to Governor Pataki, New York State has made significant strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS and, in 1997, became the first State to implement HIV newborn screening.
In August 1999, New York State's newborn screening regulations were revised to require expedited testing for infants born of women who do not know their HIV status. In such cases, newborn HIV screening results must be available within 48 hours to minimize the possibility of HIV transmission to an uninfected infant by an HIV+ mother, and so that infected infants may begin treatment with anti–retroviral therapy (ART) without delay. Without swift treatment, HIV in infants progresses to full–blown AIDS in a very short time, often less than a year.
New York State also will shortly begin tracking the number of HIV infections, so that health officials can better respond to the epidemic with targeted prevention efforts and enhanced services. Currently, only AIDS cases are reported. The majority of AIDS cases in New York are among minorities, injection drug users and males. However, the proportion of women with HIV and of individuals who have been infected heterosexually is steadily increasing.