State Health Commissioner Novello Honors New Yorkers for Contributions in Fighting HIV/AIDS

Albany, NY, November 30, 2005 - 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. The Department's awards were presented to honorees in recognition of World AIDS Day 2005, to be celebrated on December 1.

"Tomorrow marks the Eighteenth official national observance of World AIDS Day. This year's theme, 'Be Safe, Be Smart -- HIV Can Be Stopped' is a message aimed at prevention in all people," said Dr. Novello.

"Today we remember those whose lives have been lost to this disease. We also honor individuals and organizations whose years of work in the HIV/AIDS field has made a positive difference to the many people they have reached. We thank these dedicated honorees for bringing their knowledge, hope and care to the fight against HIV/AIDS."

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 160,000 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 supported HIV/AIDS initiatives at record funding levels currently totaling more than $2 billion in state and federal dollars annually – the largest funding commitment of any State in the nation.

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 2005 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

Maria A. Davis, the producer and promoter of R & B Against AIDS, courageously uses her personal experiences to target HIV prevention messages to youth in Central Harlem and around the country.

East Harlem

Enrique Andino is a member of the Ryan White HIV CARE Network and the New York State and New York City HIV Prevention Planning Groups. A determined advocate, he is also an accomplished trainer for the Leadership Training Institute.

Queens

The AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC) is honored as a pioneer provider of client-centered AIDS services and as an outstanding community resource since 1986.

Bronx

Randi Baker, member of the Bronx HIV CARE Network Steering Committee and Community Resources Coordinator for the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force, has provided invaluable statistical and demographic information about health in the Bronx.

East New York/Brownsville

Ivy Turnbull, the current Board President of the national AIDS Alliance, has been a strong and influential force in local, state, and national HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and services since 1979.

Bedford/Stuyvesant/Crown Heights

Jack R. Miller is a Peer Mentor at the Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights HIV CARE Network and a member of the Consumer Advisory Board of the Leadership Training Institute. He is an empowered and implacable advocate in his work with at-risk youth and young adults.

Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick

Dr. Benjamin Igwe is President and CEO of the Family Services Network of New York (FSNNY). His vision and leadership successfully developed FSNNY into an organization offering a remarkable range of fully integrated community-based public health services.

Staten Island

Justin Ligreci is founder of the Justin Ligreci HIV/AIDS Foundation, co-chair of the Young People's Committee of the New York State Prevention Planning Group, and board member of Conscious Contact of New York City. A courageous and inspiring role model, he also runs a camp for young people with and affected by HIV.

Long Island

Nassau-Suffolk

Wendy Abt, a grandmother and mother of five, has worked selflessly on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS for more than a decade, serving as co-chair of a committee developing her region's HIV service delivery plan.

Hudson Valley

Lower Hudson

Victor Alvarez, program director for Living Together, is honored for many years of strong leadership and dedication to raising awareness and improving the lives of people with HIV/AIDS.

Mid-Hudson

Martin O'Keefe is member of the Ryan White Title II Steering Committee and is honored as a devoted advocate who has successfully educated lawmakers about the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Northeastern New York

Debbie DeRosalia has a long history of compassionate work on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS, including the Ryan White CARE Network in the Capital Region and as a member of the NAMES Project.

Central New York

Marilyn Brown-Shakir, a case manager and counselor, is being honored as skilled and resourceful first responder who cares for some of the most vulnerable people with HIV/AIDS, often in times of crisis.

Rochester/Finger Lakes

Nominated as a team, Julian Brown, Jr., Chair of the Consumer Advisory Council, and Richard Fowler, Vice Chair, serve on numerous HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and advocacy groups. They are nominated for lending exceptional support and leadership to the HIV/AIDS community over many years.

Southern Tier

Binghamton/Tri-County

The Tioga County Workgroup of the Binghamton Tri-County HIV CARE Network is nominated for numerous accomplishments and their steadfast commitment to increasing community awareness of HIV/AIDS in rural Tioga County.

Western New York

Buffalo

Barbara Jesz, who is being honored for 20 exemplary years of dedicated HIV/AIDS work, is a community health nurse with the Niagara County Health Department and a founding member of the Niagara County AIDS Task Force and Western New York Consortia/AIDS Network.

AIDS Institute Office of the Medical Director Nominee

Eli Camhi is honored for more than 20 years of inspiring and innovative leadership that has improved services for people with HIV/AIDS. He serves as Executive Director of New York Presbyterian Select Health HIV Special Needs Plans.

HIV Stops with Me Campaign Spokesmodels

New York State's "HIV Stops with Me" Campaign brings prevention messages and education to people who are HIV positive. Spokesmodels Al, Charles, Darlene, Annette, Denise, Lee, Luna, Martha, Scott, and Tom courageously shared their own stories, serving as role models and examples of hope and caring. Sadly, Tom's participation ended with his death in April.

Peer Education Programs/Peer Educators

Teenagers trained as Peer Educators by the following Capital Region organizations are being honored: Equinox, Inc.; S.T.A.R.S. Program of Albany County; S.T.A.R.S. Program of Columbia County; TOUCH Program; Unity House/Safety Zone; Youth Expression Theatre of Girls, Inc. (Y.E.T.)