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

Albany, December 4, 2002 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H. today honored individuals and organizations from around the State for their extraordinary contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS and urged all New Yorkers to work to end stigma and discrimination against persons who are living with the still–incurable disease.

Dr. Novello said, "During this first week of December, we are marking the fifteenth official observance of World AIDS Day. This year's theme, 'AIDS — Stigma and Discrimination' reminds us that despite the progress we have made, there is much more to do. I am proud that, under Governor Pataki, no State spends more 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. More than 5 million individuals became infected in 2002. In the United States, two young people under the age of 25 become infected with HIV every hour. In New York State, 149,000 people have been diagnosed with AIDS and 142,000 are living with HIV. However, the number of those affected by HIV/AIDS is higher still, as families, friends, and caregivers of persons living with the disease struggle with its long–term physical and emotional impact.

To address these needs, New York State has an annual budget of more than $2 billion in State and federal funds devoted to HIV/AIDS programs – 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 by this disease.

New York State's observance of World AIDS Day 2002 includes a display of 70 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center and an awards presentation to the following individuals and organizations nominated by Ryan White CARE Networks around the State:

Central Harlem

Robert Cordero, Director of Prevention and Support Services of the William F. Ryan Community Health Center. Mr. Cordero is nominated for his advocacy for clients and staff. He is also active on many AIDS coalitions and advisory boards. Mr. Cordero is an important role model for both staff and clients, encouraging and empowering people in all that he does. He is particularly honored for his sincerity, dedication and endurance in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


Stella Simmons began working with the HIV Care Network in 1997. She is nominated for her dedication and commitment to the Network, particularly during the absence of the Network Coordinator between January and July 2002. During this time, Ms. Simmons ensured that activities of the Network continued and ran smoothly.

Staten Island

Iline (China) Chung–Eddie is an exemplary volunteer at Project Hospitality who has given years of dedicated service to the homeless and those with HIV/AIDS. She has been a consistent voice for people living with HIV/AIDS, especially women of color and immigrants. China has courageously shared her life story with countless Staten Island youth, encouraging them to turn away from the temptations of drug addiction and alcoholism. Ms. Chung–Eddie is an African American and Asian immigrant from Jamaica, bringing a rich ethnic identity to her work. She is presently the Co–Chair of the PWA/PWHIV Advisory Committee to the New York State PPG, and a Steering Committee member of the Staten Island HIV Care Network.

East New York/Brownsville

Pearl Johnson has been involved with the HIV Care Network for over ten years. She presently serves as Chair of the Consumer Advisory Board and as a peer educator in treatment adherence education. She is looked to by many as a leader and role model. Ms. Johnson is nominated for her dedication, advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS and ability to empower others to participate in Network activities.

Lower Hudson

Larry L. Hilton is Director of HIV/AIDS Programs for the Urban League of Westchester County, Inc. The programs Mr. Hilton oversees include a syringe/needle exchange program in Mount Vernon, a harm reduction program sponsored by the CDC and a Community Development Initiative (CDI) supported by the AIDS Institute. Mr. Hilton serves on the Ryan White Titles I and II Planning Councils, is co–chair of the Faith–based Initiative, Chair of the Westchester County AIDS Council, President of the Mount Vernon Task Force on AIDS, member of the Yonkers HIV/AIDS Providers' Task Force, Chair of the Male Minority Youth Empowerment Project at the Hudson River Healthcare Center in Peekskill and a Board member of the Rockland Psychiatric Center. He is honored for his more than 8 years of serving the community, particularly in the field of HIV/AIDS.


Mildred Johnson has been involved in the fight against AIDS for many years. She previously served as Co–Chair of the Queens HIV CARE Case Management Committee and is currently a member of the Network Steering Committee. Ms. Johnson is nominated for her dedication and commitment to the Network as a public advocate, concerned community resident and outstanding leader.

Northeast New York (Albany)

PLWA Advisory Committee of the Ryan White CARE Network is being recognized for providing outreach and support to PLWAs in the Northeast region through retreats, advocacy efforts and community forums addressing such issues as domestic violence, treatment updates and women's treatment issues. The PLWA Advisory Committee sponsored a roundtable discussion between consumers and service providers to highlight the importance of involving consumers in service planning. In addition, committee members are involved in numerous community activities such as World AIDS Day events, AIDS Watch and AIDS Awareness Day. The PLWA Advisory Committee is recognized statewide as a model for active leadership, and genuine concern for people infected and affected with HIV/AIDS.

Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights

Robert–Lee Thomas is Chair of the PWA Advisory Board and serves as a peer mentor for the Network, reaching out to the Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights community on issues of HIV/AIDS. Mr. Thomas conducts community workshops to church and civic organizations on HIV/AIDS with a focus on young people. Mr. Thomas is a positive role model to consumers on the Advisory Board and throughout the Network and is nominated for his dedication in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


Willie J. Hilson, Jr. is a graduate of the Leadership Training Institute (LTI), an active member of the Network Steering Committee and an active member of the PLWHA and Community Awareness Committees. Mr. Hilson has represented the Network at NAPWA's "AIDS Watch 2002" and at NYAC's annual conference. In addition, he has made strong connections with the faith community.


Julian Brown, Jr. serves as a case manager and outreach worker for the McCree McCuller Wellness Center, a local HIV/AIDS clinic which serves the African American community in Rochester. Mr. Brown has been a frequent guest speaker on a local radio show where he has discussed the impact of HIV/AIDS in communities of color and among youth and their families. Since its opening, Mr. Brown has served as the lifeguard to Camp Soar for HIV–infected and affected children. He remains in contact with camp youth throughout the year and is the one many youth turn to in times of trouble. Mr. Julian Brown is nominated for his commitment and for organizing successful events throughout the year, such as National HIV Testing Day.


Robert Perez–Sulsona is nominated for his dedication and commitment to the HIV/AIDS community, both locally and statewide. In addition to being an active member of the CARE Network, Mr. Sulsona is currently co–chair of the Case Management Committee, member of the Services Plan Development Committee, Policy Advisory Committee for the Community Awareness Group, member of the Advisory Board for the Statewide AIDS Services Delivery Consortium and a member of the Title I Planning Council. Also, for the past three years Mr. Sulsona has been a member of the Nassau County HIV Commission and currently serves as co–chair of the Faith Community Task Force and chair of the Media Committee.

East Harlem

Tracey Bing–Hampson is nominated for her years of dedication to the PLWA community in East Harlem. Ms. Bing–Hampson is a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society and serves as co–chair of the Network's Steering Committee and member of the Network's Community Awareness Workgroup. Her dedication and willingness to help others are inspirational.


Andrew R. Kiener is one of the founding members of the Network's PLWHA Advisory Committee. Presently, Mr. Kiener is the Executive Director of the AIDS Network and serves as the Community Co–Chair of the NYS Prevention Planning Group. He serves as an assistant trainer for the AIDS Institute's PWA Leadership Training Institute. Mr. Kiener is well respected by his colleagues and is nominated for his outstanding commitment and dedication to the PLWHA community.

Central New York

The Living Room is nominated for providing a "home away from home" for many PWAs in Central New York. The Living Room is also a nutritional based support center which serves hot meals. In addition, the Living Room provides meeting space for the Network and helps to recruit PWAs to promote their involvement within the Network as well as the PWA Leadership Training Institute.


Hector Quinones is Co–Chair of the Network Steering Committee and Director of "La Cocina," a food pantry and diner located in Bushwick offering food to those in need. Mr. Quinones is an active member of the Network. His dedication, unfailing service and willingness to help others are inspirational to Network members.

Southern Tier

Tom Garruto is an Outreach Educator working for the Southern Tier AIDS Program. He organized a benefit show titled "In the Garden of Good and Evil." The event highlighted HIV/AIDS awareness in the community and also helped to raise funds for client services. Mr. Garruto was the motivating force that helped to reinvigorate the Souther Tier AIDS Program's AIDS Walk, which had not been held for a few years. Recognizing that pets provide an important source of support for many persons living with HIV, Mr. Garruto single–handedly developed the PAWS program for Southern Tier AIDS clients. He has secured donations including food, litter, toys and veterinary services for clients in need. Mr. Garruto is nominated for his extraordinary commitment to bettering the lives of those living with HIV.

Brenda Wise

Brenda Wise is nominated for her courage and persistence in overcoming HIV/AIDS discrimination. In 1994, the Legal Action Center represented Brenda Wise and her then 5–year old daughter in a case of HIV discrimination by an after–school program.

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