State Health Commissioner Novello Honors New Yorkers Contributions In Fight Against HIV/AIDS

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H., today honored individuals from around the State for their extraordinary contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS and urged all New Yorkers to work to increase empathy and eliminate discrimination against persons who are living with this disease.

Dr. Novello said, "During this first week of December, we are marking the Seventeenth official observance of World AIDS Day. This year's theme, 'Women and HIV/AIDS' reminds us that despite the progress we have made, there is much more to do. More and more women are becoming infected with HIV. Since 1985, the percentage of women among adults living with HIV/AIDS has risen from 35 percent to 48 percent. I am proud that, under Governor Pataki, no state dedicates more resources than New York for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Our State recognizes that persons who are living with HIV/AIDS are not merely statistics, they are individuals who deserve, and are receiving, compassion, consideration and the highest quality of care."

Globally, it is estimated that more than 40 million people are living with HIV or AIDS. In the last year, more than five million individuals became infected with HIV and more than three million died of AIDS. In the United States, approximately 20,000 persons under the age of 25 are newly infected with HIV each year.

In New York State, more than 155,000 people have been diagnosed with AIDS. New York State has experienced a major decrease in deaths from AIDS, and this can be significantly attributed to the availability of new combination therapy drugs and more effective treatment of infections individuals with the disease may be susceptible to.

Governor George Pataki has, over the years, supported HIV/AIDS initiatives at record funding levels currently totaling more than $2 billion in state and federal dollars annually - more than any other State in the nation. This includes Medicaid services that provide health care for persons with HIV.

The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute has nearly 500 direct service contracts with health and social service providers across the State to prevent HIV transmission and to deliver medical and social support services to persons living with HIV/AIDS. Many of these contracts are with community-based organizations that are best suited to serve the minority communities that have been disproportionately affected.

New York State's observance of World AIDS Day 2004 includes a display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center and an awards presentation to the following individuals and organizations:

New York City

Central Harlem

Mr. Donald Powell is the Program Coordinator at Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD). He is nominated for his ability to develop, implement and execute outstanding programs to meet the needs of black gay men. He is recognized for his leadership and vision.

East Harlem

Ms. Maija Neville, MPH, is nominated for her unwavering commitment to fighting HIV in communities of color. Ms. Neville is recognized for her compassion and commitment to community service.

Queens

Ms. Joan Lohnes is nominated for her dedicated service to others for more than four decades. Ms. Lohnes is recognized for her outstanding commitment to people with HIV and all people in need of support.

Bronx

Ms. Nancy McWillis is nominated for her enthusiastic volunteer efforts in the Bronx. Ms. McWillis is recognized for her "can do" spirit and willingness to put in the extra time it takes to get the job done.

East New York/Brownsville (Brooklyn)

Mr. John Krevitt is nominated for fifteen years of dedicated service to people with and affected by HIV. Mr. Krevitt is recognized for his unfailing commitment to improving the quality of care for those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights (Brooklyn)

Mr. Gerald Edwards is currently Outreach Coordinator at Interfaith Medical Center, providing HIV antibody counseling and testing in communities at risk. Mr. Edwards is recognized for his leadership in promoting HIV prevention, counseling and testing for New York's communities at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick (Brooklyn)

Mr. Peter N. Pavich is the Acting Executive Director for Helping Hands Unlimited, Inc., a transitional housing program for HIV positive men with a history of substance abuse and/or mental illness. Mr. Pavich is nominated for his twenty years of HIV/AIDS work.

Staten Island

Mr. James Laub is the Co-Chair of the PLWA Advisory Group of the Staten Island Ryan White HIV CARE Network. Mr. Laub is nominated for his many years as an HIV/AIDS advocate and volunteer in the Staten Island community.

Long Island

Nassau/Suffolk

Mr. Stephen Sebor has worked as an HIV/AIDS Clinical Specialist for the past five years. Mr. Sebor is nominated for his efforts to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Hudson Valley

Lower Hudson

Ms. Pat Taddeo, P.A., is the Director of HIV Services at the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center. She is nominated for her dedication in providing quality HIV health care services.

Mid-Hudson

Ms. Ayo Wells is a member of the Ryan White HIV CARE Network and Co-Chair of the Network's PLWH/A Committee. Ms. Wells is nominated for her continuing commitment to the community and the Network.

Capital Region

Mr. Perry Junjulas is the Executive Director of the Albany Damien Center. Mr. Junjulas is nominated for his efforts to ensure a better quality of life for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Julia Caro is responsible for Centro Civico's Community Development Initiative, responsible for HIV/AIDS outreach and education in Amsterdam, targeting Latino community members who are at risk for HIV/AIDS. Ms. Caro is nominated for her successful implementation of "Project Needlesmart," a program that resulted in the first pharmacy-based safe sharps disposal unit in New York State being located in Amsterdam.

Central New York

Mr. Paul E. Carr III is an active member of the Central New York Ryan White HIV CARE Network and a member of its Consumer Advisory and Community Awareness Committees. Mr. Carr is nominated for his efforts to develop and strengthen support resources for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Southern Tier

Ms. Elaine Mallison is an active member of the Binghamton Tri-County Ryan White HIV CARE Network, serving on its Case Management, Community Awareness, Steering and World AIDS Day Planning Committees. Ms. Mallison is nominated for her efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Rochester/Finger Lakes

Mr. Robert Bilheimer, a Rochester resident, is the producer and director of the film, "A Closer Walk," a documentary about the impact of HIV/AIDS around the world. Mr. Bilheimer is nominated for his contribution to the global fight against HIV/AIDS through the production and airing of this documentary.

Western New York

Ms. Inez Jones is the Project Coordinator for the Education and Training Program Unit of the Western Regional Office of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. Ms. Jones is nominated for her significant contributions in creating collaborative partnerships in HIV/AIDS service delivery.