State Health Department Marks World AIDS Day 2008 with Ceremony at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center

Awards presented to individuals and organizations for HIV/AIDS contributions statewide

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 1, 2008) – The State Department of Health will mark the 21st year observance of World AIDS Day 2008 on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany by honoring individuals and organizations statewide for their outstanding contributions in the field of HIV and AIDS.

"More than 25 years into the epidemic, AIDS continues to impact the lives of thousands of New Yorkers," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "AIDS does not discriminate by race, gender, sexual orientation or age. Despite new therapies and people living longer with HIV/AIDS, the struggle is far from over. In observance of World AIDS Day, we will honor those individuals who have committed their time and extraordinary efforts to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS, and who have made their struggles their own."

Today, approximately 116,000 New Yorkers are reported living with either HIV or AIDS. New York remains the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic, with 16 percent of all people living with AIDS nationally.

The rallying cry for this year's World AIDS Day, "Don't become a statistic. Make healthy choices to protect yourself," reaffirms the Department's continued commitment to AIDS prevention as demonstrated by the expenditure of more than $80 million this year, more than any other state, on AIDS prevention efforts.

Twelve awards will be presented at Tuesday's World AIDS Day ceremony at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, where panels from the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt are on display through Dec. 4. Award nominations were submitted from Ryan White CARE networks throughout New York and by the State Health Department.

Recognition awards will be presented to the following individuals and groups:

  • New York City:
    • Bronx — Anna Lascano, Social Work Assistant with the Center for Positive Living, Infectious Disease Clinic at Montefiore Medical Center, has provided exceptional case management services that have helped many individuals dealing with crisis situations, finding housing and other supportive services.
    • Brooklyn — Andrea Williams, Community Health Care Worker/Treatment Advocate at Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center, has lived with HIV/AIDS for 16 years. As a Peer Educator with People with AIDS Coalition and with Life Force, Women Fighting AIDS, Inc., Andrea conducted safe sex presentations, ran support groups and advocated for women with HIV/AIDS. Andrea courageously allowed her story to be told in the film 'Life Support,' with Queen Latifah portraying Andrea.
    • Manhattan — Caring Hands for Positive Woman, Inc., is a not-for-profit community-based organization whose mission is to build a grassroots alliance of low-income women and their families residing in the East Harlem/El Barrio Community. Collaborating with the KIDS S.A.V.E.D 4 Life Program, the organization has been working with 28 schools in Manhattan teaching children how to help family and friends who are HIV positive.
    • Queens — April White has been with the Queens HIV CARE Network for 10 years and has served tirelessly as the acting chair of the Women and Children Committee. She has been instrumental in bringing increased awareness of HIV/AIDS to the Queens community.
    • Staten Island — The Living Room, part of Community Health Action of Staten Island, provides meals, transportation, socialization and education on important health-related topics for people living with HIV and AIDS, their families, partners and friends. The staff is assisted by a group of devoted volunteers who donate their time.
  • Long Island:
    • Nassau-Suffolk — Community Prevention Services provides outreach services throughout Long Island, and most notably, created a unique peer education initiative that provided HIV/AIDS education to more than 900 seventh grade students.
  • Upstate:
    • Hudson Valley — Lisa M. Reid, Associate Director of HIV Services for Hudson River Community Health Care, has been a committed supporter of HIV/AIDS prevention by improving the health and social services for individuals and families affected by HIV, and empowering people and creating programs to meet their needs.
    • Capital Region — George Clifford, Ph.D, M.P.A, Administrator, Department of Medicine at Albany Medical College and previously the Administrator for the AIDS Program, has dedicated over 20 years to the care, treatment and support of persons living with HIV and AIDS. Dr. Clifford ensured that people living with HIV/AIDS were made a part of the planning and quality improvement processes, hiring many persons living with HIV/AIDS to fill vital positions.
    • Central New York — Catholic Worker House, Michael DeSalvo and Nick Ortho have operated Catholic Worker House for the last 16 years, a private residence devoted to meeting the housing and caring support needs of persons living with AIDS. The two men have been key voices in efforts to increase community awareness of the need for humanitarian response to HIV/AIDS.
    • Finger Lakes — Sady Fischer, Prevention Specialist at AIDS Rochester, has written curriculum, facilitated groups at the Monroe County Jail, administered HIV counseling and testing and participated in outreach. She reaches out to communities of color and has been a valued member of the Rochester Area Task Force on AIDS and the HIV Care Network of the Finger Lakes Region.
    • Western New York — Sheila Figliotti, Family Counselor of Positive Families of Child and Family Services, provides individual and group counseling to parents, caregivers and children and assists with securing critical support services for these families. Sheila has been instrumental in the success of many projects and activities such as Refugee and HIV training, Cradle Beach Camp and Family Day at the Zoo.
    • Faith Community Project — Robert E. Fullilove, Ed.D., Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs and Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, co-directs the Community Research Group at New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University. Through the Faith Communities Project, Dr. Fullilove has increased awareness of HIV/AIDS, especially among communities of African and Latino descent.

In addition to the Commissioner's Distinguished Awards Ceremony, the state Health Department will observe World AIDS Day with a series of other school and public events throughout this week.

Tuesday, Dec. 2

  • School group sessions will be held from 9 a.m.-noon in Meeting Rooms 1-7.
  • From 1-3 p.m., Distinguished Service Awards will be presented in the Convention Center to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions serving those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, Dec. 3

  • School group sessions will be held from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Meeting Rooms 1-7.

Thursday, Dec. 4

  • School group sessions will be held from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Meeting Rooms 1-7.
  • Closing Ceremony will be held in the Convention Center from 3-4 p.m. Dan O'Connell, Deputy Director of HIV Prevention and Program Evaluation, New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, and Valerie White, Deputy Director of Administration and Data Systems, New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, will deliver the closing remarks. Cindy Jennings, Vice President of the NAMES Project, New York Capital Region Chapter Board of Directors, will also deliver closing remarks.
  • Family members and friends of those who lost their lives to AIDS will dedicate new quilt panels representing the stories and memories of their loved ones. This dedication will provide a time for remembrance and healing.