HIV/STD/HCV Prevention and Related Services

Criminal Justice Initiative

The Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI) was developed in response to the emerging prevention and service needs of incarcerated HIV-positive individuals, incarcerated individuals who engage in high-risk behaviors, and formerly incarcerated individuals in New York State.

The goal is to implement a combination of prevention interventions and support services that seek to decrease the spread of HIV/STD/HCV and meet priority needs of HIV-positive and at-risk criminal justice populations throughout the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).  The initiative aims to:

  • Identify new infections and ensure connection to medical care and appropriate linkage to partner services;
  • Provide activities designed to train peers to deliver HIV/STD/HCV related information;
  • Address the unique needs and challenges of incarcerated women as well as women re-entering the community utilizing Trauma Informed Care;
  • Strengthen the capacity of HIV-positive individuals exiting NYS correctional facilities to achieve successful community re-entry with a focus on addressing barriers to re-entry and services that facilitate maintaining/achieving positive medical outcomes (treatment adherence, viral load suppression, etc.); and
  • Reduce HIV/STD/HCV-related risk behaviors post release by using a client centered, step-by-step approach to service delivery.

Funded interventions and services are designed to increase early identification of HIV via targeted anonymous HIV testing for incarcerated individuals who engage in high-risk behaviors; reduce HIV transmission; and improve the health and well-being of individuals living with HIV and AIDS.  All interventions funded, which include peer training and support, effective behavioral interventions, transitional planning (linkage and navigation) and community reentry services, recognize that addressing the HIV/STD/HCV-related prevention and support needs of incarcerated individuals from admission into a correctional facility through the months following release is essential to successful disease prevention and care.

CJI contractor services are a complement to the long-standing collaboration between the NYS DOCCS and the New York State Department of Health (DOH). This collaboration allows for the targeted distribution of Health Resource Portfolios and Work Release Packets containing HIV/STD/HCV prevention information and male and female condoms that are provided to inmates as they leave correctional facilities.

In NYS correctional facilities, the CJI also supports the Prison HIV Hotline. This hotline offers individuals who are incarcerated in State correctional facilities the opportunity to call collect for HIV/STD/HCV information and counseling. The hotline is also a clearinghouse for HIV/STD/HCV-related information and provides transitional planning (linkage and navigation) and referral services for HIV-positive incarcerated individuals upon release.

The New York State Department of Health, through the AIDS Institute, also receives a sub-allocation in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of Children and Family Services. This sub-allocation is used for HIV prevention education for youth engaged in care, coordination of care for HIV-positive youth, HIV training programs for agency staff, and support for overall HIV testing efforts.
NYS DOH staff work collaboratively with NYS DOCCS staff to achieve project goals. 

Contact:

Bethsabet de León Stevens
Director, Bureau of Community Based Services
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(518) 486-1412
bethsabet.deleonjustiniano@health.ny.gov

Rick Cook
CJI Coordinator, BCBS
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(518) 473-7258
rick.cook@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

Prevention and Related Services for Women

Funding to support HIV/STD/hepatitis C (HCV) prevention services for women is awarded to contractors located throughout the State, including community-based organizations, hospitals, and community health centers. The priority populations for the initiative are women, particularly women of color who engage in high-risk behaviors and women who are HIV positive. The largest groups of women affected by HIV and AIDS are low income women, women of color and women who are often marginalized in society. Heterosexual contact and injection drug use are the most frequently reported HIV transmission categories among women living with HIV/AIDS in NYS.

Women who are HIV positive and women who engage in high-risk behaviors need comprehensive services to access a full range of behavioral health, physical health, and social services which will improve their well-being and overall quality of life.

The key components of this initiative include: direct provision of and/or linkage to HIV/STD testing and/or HCV screening; linkage, navigation and retention in services for women who are HIV positive and women who engage in high-risk behaviors; HIV/STD evidence-based and homegrown/locally developed prevention interventions designed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission or acquisition with HIV-positive women or women who engage in high-risk behaviors through HIV medication adherence, partner services-based interventions, PrEP education and adherence support; and condom promotion, education and distribution. 

The objectives of programs funded to provide HIV/STD/HCV prevention services for women through this initiative are to:

  • Prevent new HIV/STD/HCV infections;
  • Increase HIV/STD/HCV testing and screening services;
  • Increase the number of women who know their HIV/STD/HCV status;
  • Identify HIV/STD/HCV-positive individuals and ensure access to early, high quality medical care and prevention services;
  • Increase access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and risk reduction services;
  • Facilitate access to prevention services including PrEP linkage and support services;
  • Facilitate access to essential supportive services; and
  • Improve the quality of life for women who engage in high risk behaviors through a comprehensive prevention approach, which may include addressing violence and trauma; behavioral health needs; access to health care; and partner engagement in the prevention of HIV and STDs.

Contact:

Nkechi Oguagha
Director, Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(212) 417-4707
nkechi.oguagha@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

School-Based HIV Prevention Education

The AIDS Institute and the New York State Education Department, through a Memorandum of Understanding, collaborate to:

  • Provide training opportunities and follow-up technical assistance for education professionals, including those who work with adolescents, elementary school children, and special populations including incarcerated youth, youth in alternative situations, youth who utilize special education, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or questioning youth, and pregnant and parenting youth;
  • Establish a system for continual review of HIV/AIDS prevention education materials;
  • Provide training opportunities that develop and enhance partnerships with traditional and non-traditional partners to promote effective policies and programming, i.e. community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, higher education, school nurses, and school boards of education;
  • Develop and market strategies to develop and promote healthy youth development norms using youth development, supportive learning environments and coordinated school health approaches; and
  • Design and/or identify effective training models, modules, and agendas for HIV and STD prevention and HIV/STD-related education within a youth development framework.

Contact:

Dora Swan
Coordinator, Sexual Health Unit
Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(518) 402-6798
dora.swan@health.ny.gov

Transgender Individuals

In 2012, the Comprehensive HIV/STD/hepatitis C (HCV) Prevention and Related Services for Transgender Individuals initiative was established to ensure dedicated funding for the transgender community apart from overall funding for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, recognizing that transgender individuals have distinct prevention needs.

Transgender is a broad term for individuals whose gender identity and expression does not conform to norms and expectations traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth.  The transgender community is not homogenous.  While some transgender persons seek physical transformation through the use of hormones, sex re-assignment surgery or cosmetic procedures, others pursue masculine or feminine gender expression solely through behavior or self-presentation. Transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or none of the above. 

The funding supports programs that provide a comprehensive range of HIV/STD/HCV prevention and related services for transgender individuals who are HIV positive and transgender individuals who are HIV negative and engage in high-risk behaviors.  The various program models acknowledge the social isolation and multiple needs of transgender individuals who engage in high-risk behaviors and transgender individuals who are HIV positive and ensure access to a comprehensive array of services that addresses their prevention, health care, and support needs. 

The goals and objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Provide effective evidence-based prevention interventions intended to keep transgender individuals from acquiring and transmitting HIV/STD/HCV;
  • Develop and implement strategies to address societal norms that impede HIV/STD/HCV prevention efforts for transgender individuals;
  • Provide comprehensive sexual health risk reduction services to transgender individuals;
  • Identify transgender individuals who engage in high risk behaviors and are unaware of their status and connect them to testing, comprehensive health care, and prevention services;
  • Provide ongoing HIV prevention services to transgender individuals who are living with HIV/AIDS to reduce the transmission of HIV and maintain optimal health; and
  • Provide mental health and alcohol/substance use related services to transgender individuals to address underlying causes of high-risk behavior and to support the health and wellness of individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

The scope of services includes targeted client engagement and recruitment, HIV/STD/HCV testing, linkage to partner services, direct linkage to health care and other prevention services, evidence-based risk reduction interventions, and behavioral health services.

Contact:

Carmen Vazquez
Director, LGBT Health Services Unit, Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services 
(212) 417-4707
carmen.vazquez@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

Gay Men/Men Who have Sex with Men (MSM)

Gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, making up more than half of new diagnoses in 2015. Persons of color are over-represented among MSM with HIV/AIDS, with Blacks and Hispanics accounting for nearly two-thirds of all MSM-related HIV diagnosis. 

Funding for Comprehensive HIV/STD/HCV Prevention and Related Services for Gay Men and MSM supports programs that provide a comprehensive range of HIV/STD/HCV prevention and related services for gay men and MSM who are at risk or HIV positive, particularly in communities of color.  The overall goals of the initiative are to:

  • Prevent new HIV/STD/HCV infections;
  • Increase the number of gay men and MSM who know their HIV/STD/HCV status;
  • Increase HIV/STD/HCV testing and screening services;
  • Identify HIV/STD/HCV-positive individuals and ensure access to early, high quality health care and prevention services; and
  • Facilitate access to biomedical interventions and essential supportive services.

Young gay men and MSM also account for significant proportions of new diagnoses in NYS.  It is recognized that community driven prevention efforts, including the availability of risk reduction interventions and newer biomedical approaches, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention for HIV, are important for this population. 

Additional funding supports community-based HIV/STD/HCV Prevention and Related Services for Young Gay Men and MSM, with a focus on communities of color.   Funding supports organizations that serve young gay men and young MSM ages 13 to 29 with a focus on communities of color. 

The overall goals of the initiative are to:

  • Prevent new HIV/STD/HCV infections;
  • Increase HIV/STD/HCV testing and screening services;
  • Increase the number of young gay men and YMSM who know their HIV/STD/HCV status;
  • Identify HIV/STD/HCV-positive individuals and ensure access to early, high quality medical care and prevention services;
  • Increase access to comprehensive sexual health information;
  • Facilitate access to prevention services including PrEP linkage and support services; and
  • Facilitate access to essential supportive services.

The key components of this initiative include: 

  • Direct provision of and/or linkage to HIV/STD testing and/or HCV screening; linkage, navigation, and retention services for persons who are HIV positive or HIV-negative persons who engage in high-risk behaviors;
  • HIV/STD evidence-based and homegrown/locally developed prevention interventions designed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission or acquisition through HIV medication adherence;
  • Partner services-based interventions;
  • PrEP support programs; and
  • Condom promotion, education and distribution. 

Contact:

Maxine Phillips
Director, Harm Reduction Unit
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(212) 417-4661
maxine.phillips@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

Communities of Color

Funding supports programs that provide a comprehensive range of HIV/STD/HCV prevention and related services for individuals who are HIV positive or at risk heterosexually-identified men and women, particularly persons of color.

Funding supports activities that seek to decrease the transmission of HIV/STD/HCV through interventions and services that expand targeted efforts to prevent HIV infection using a combination of effective, evidence-based approaches; educate and raise awareness about HIV- related issues including prevention, transmission, health disparities, and stigma/discrimination; integrate HIV, STD and HCV testing/screening or referrals and prevention education within HIV programs; and support individuals who are HIV positive and individuals who engage in high-risk behaviors to facilitate access to medical care as well as biomedical and/or behavioral change prevention services. All services consider the unique social and cultural needs of populations served.

Prevention interventions and client services are provided in community and criminal justice settings and address the prevention and support needs of individuals who are HIV positive.  Prevention interventions and services are also targeted to individuals at highest risk for HIV/STD/HCV including men who have sex with men, young men of color who have sex with men, substance users, heterosexual men and women who engage in high-risk behaviors, and transgender women and men and may include:

  • Targeted client recruitment/engagement;
  • HIV testing and linkage to care, partner services, and prevention;
  • STD/HCV screening and linkage to care, partner services, and prevention;
  • Linkage and navigation;
  • PrEP/PEP education, screening and support;
  • Effective behavioral interventions; and
  • Support services (i.e., counseling and alcohol/substance use-related services)

The overall goals of the initiative are to:

  • Reduce disease incidence;
  • Decrease the rate of HIV/STD/HCV transmission;
  • Decrease high-risk behaviors among HIV-positive and at-risk persons;
  • Increase the proportion of HIV/STD/HCV-positive individuals who are aware of their status;
  • Increase the proportion of HIV/STD-positive persons who are linked to prevention, partner services, and treatment; and
  • Increase the proportion of HIV-positive persons who are retained in care and achieve viral load suppression.

Contact:

Bethsabet de León Stevens
Director, Bureau of Community Based Services
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention
(518) 486-1412
bethsabet.deleonjustiniano@health.ny.gov

Nkechi Oguagha
Director, Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention
(212) 417-4707
nkechi.oguagha@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

Young People

The primary goal of the HIV/STD/HCV Prevention and Related Services for Young People through the Use of Youth Health Advocates Initiative is to support the training and utilization of a diverse group of Youth Health Advocates (YHAs) to enhance the delivery of services to young people living with HIV/AIDS and young people who engage in high-risk behaviors, with a focus on communities of color.

Funded providers employ YHAs who are young people between the ages of 13 and 24 with demographics similar to the target population who are engaging in or who have previously engaged in behaviors that place them at risk of HIV/STD/HCV infection. The role of the YHAs is to actively engage with young people living with HIV/AIDS and/or young people who engage in high-risk behaviors to encourage them to seek treatment, care, and prevention services.

The overall goals of the initiative are to:

  • Actively engage young people and increase their access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information;
  • Prevent new HIV/STD/HCV infections;
  • Increase HIV/STD/HCV testing and screening services;
  • Increase the number of young people who know their HIV/STD/HCV status;
  • Identify individuals who are HIV/STD/HCV positive and ensure access to early, high quality care and prevention services;
  • Facilitate access to prevention services; and
  • Facilitate access to essential supportive services.

The NYS Department of Health encourages programs that serve young people to integrate the principles and practices of youth development into service models. A youth development approach extends and enhances traditional harm reduction and prevention models by focusing on strengthening the protective factors that contribute to promoting healthy outcomes for young people.

In addition, funded programs have policies and attributes that are youth friendly and attract young people to the program, provide comfortable age-appropriate settings for youth, meet the needs of young people and retain them for follow-up and repeat visits.

The key components of this initiative include: 

  • Direct provision of and/or linkage to HIV/STD testing and/or HCV screening;
  • Linkage, navigation and retention in services for youth who are HIV positive and youth who engage in high-risk behaviors;
  • YHA training;
  • HIV/STD evidence-based and locally developed prevention interventions designed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission or acquisition;
  • HIV navigation services;
  • Partner services-based interventions;
  • PrEP education and adherence support; and
  • Condom promotion, education and distribution. 

Contact:

Nkechi Oguagha
Director, Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(212) 417-4707
nkechi.oguagha@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

Lesbians/Women who have Sex with Women (WSW)

The Comprehensive HIV/STD/HCV Prevention and Related Services for Lesbians and WSW initiative was established in 2012.  The initiative was formed to ensure dedicated funding for lesbians and WSW apart from the overall LGBT funding, in recognition that lesbians and WSW have distinct prevention needs.

The funding supports programs that provide a comprehensive range of HIV/STD/HCV prevention and related services for lesbians and WSW who are HIV positive or engage in high-risk behaviors.  The various program models acknowledge the multiple needs of HIV-positive lesbians and WSW and lesbians and WSW who engage in high-risk behaviors and ensures access to a comprehensive array of services that addresses their prevention, health care, and support needs.  The initiative aims to increase access to high quality HIV/STD/HCV prevention and related services to lesbians and WSW, particularly among communities of color.

The goals and objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Provide effective, evidence-based prevention interventions intended to keep lesbians/WSW from acquiring and transmitting HIV/STD/HCV;
  • Develop and implement strategies to address societal norms that impede HIV/STD/HCV prevention efforts for lesbians and WSW;
  • Provide comprehensive sexual health risk reduction services to lesbians and WSW;
  • Identify lesbians and WSW who engage in high-risk behaviors and are unaware of their status and connect them to testing, comprehensive health care, and prevention services;
  • Provide ongoing HIV prevention services to lesbians and WSW who are living with HIV/AIDS to reduce the transmission of HIV and maintain optimal health; and
  • Provide mental health and alcohol/substance use related services to lesbians and WSW to address underlying causes for high-risk behavior and to support the health and wellness of individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

The scope of services includes targeted client engagement and recruitment, HIV/STD/HCV testing, linkage to partner services, direct linkage to health care and other prevention services, evidence-based risk reduction interventions and services, and behavioral health services.

Contact:

Carmen Vazquez
Director, LGBT Health Services Unit
Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services
(212) 417-4707
carmen.vazquez@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

STD Screening

In New York State, local health departments, family planning clinics and community health centers are established providers of safety net services, including STD screening and treatment, for uninsured and underinsured persons as well as other high priority populations.  In 2015, these agencies accounted for 11%, 13% and 9% respectively, of reported STD cases.  The Bureau of Sexual Health & Epidemiology works closely with local health departments, particularly those in high morbidity counties, to ensure appropriate services are provided as required by statute and regulation. 

Recent legislation permits health departments to bill patients and third party insurers for STD services, while requiring no patient be turned away based on willingness to provide insurance information.  The Bureau has developed regulations and guidance documents to support local health departments who plan to implement a billable service model.

The Bureau of Sexual Health & Epidemiology currently supports STD screening in 41 selected safety net provider sites through contractual support of laboratory providers, thereby reducing the cost of services to the clinical provider and patient. In 2015, agencies conducted over 61,000 tests through this mechanism, leading to detection of over 3,500 STD infections.  These agencies typically serve uninsured and underinsured individuals and higher risk individuals such as adolescent and young adult females.

The Bureau works with AI and other NYS DOH partners to identify gaps in services to safety net populations, based on data available from Medicaid and AIRS client screening data. 

Contact:

James M. Tesoriero, PhD
Division of HIV/STD Epidemiology, Evaluation, and Partner Services
(518) 474-7238
James.tesoriero@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page

LGBT Health and Human Services

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals’ access to and interaction with the health and human services system are significantly impacted by intersections with discrimination and societal rejection based on sexual identity, gender identity, and gender expression. When these factors are coupled with social determinants for poor health, the result is often health disparities that uniquely impact LGBT individuals.

Establishing systems of service delivery and support, comprised of organizations dedicated to serving LGBT individuals and their families and friends, can successfully address many of the barriers to health that LGBT individuals face.  The LGBT Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative was incorporated into the AIDS Institute program portfolio in 2008 and is comprised of grantees providing health and human services intended to improve access to health care, provide support services, reduce stigma and increase the number of providers in NYS trained to provide sensitive and affirming care to LGBT individuals and their families. The initiative also consists of two statewide technical assistance components. The first provides coordination and technical assistance to current grantees and emerging organizations.  The second provides coordination of and technical assistance on LGBT cultural competence to current grantees and emerging organizations.

The overall objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Enhance LGBT services to improve access and achieve positive health outcomes;
  • Create opportunities for services where they are needed in both urban and rural settings;
  • Support health for LGBT individuals, families, and communities;
  • Promote collaborations and integration of programs providing services to LGBT individuals and their families with mainstream services and programs;
  • Increase knowledge of LGBT health and human service providers regarding issues that impede access to and compromise the quality of health care for diverse and underserved LGBT individuals and families;
  • Expand the capacity of non-LGBT health and human service organizations to provide sensitive and affirming LGBT services;
  • Coordinate and facilitate cultural competency training activities;
  • Develop a Statewide Directory of LGBT culturally competent providers; and
  • Provide technical assistance in program development and enhance capacity of LGBT service providers.

Contact:

Carmen Vazquez
Director, LGBT Health Services Unit, Bureau of Special Populations
Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Services 
(212) 417-4707
carmen.vazquez@health.ny.gov

Back to the top of page