Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee Observes World AIDS Day at Finklestein Library; Jaffee Law Gives Sexual Assault Victims Prompt HIV/AIDS Treatment
Pearl River – Today at 7:30 pm, in observance of World AIDS Day, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) will join with Concrete Rose Leadership and the community for an HIV/AIDS Awareness Vigil at Finklestein Memorial Library. Jaffee will talk briefly about the new law she authored, which provides expanded HIV/AIDS-prevention treatment and follow-up care to victims of sexual assault. The law (A669-C) took effect on November 27th.
“As we gather together to remember all those past and present who have so bravely battled HIV/AIDS, I offer a small but meaningful victory. Here in New York no victim of sexual assault will be denied access to timely treatment that can prevent HIV/AIDS,” Jaffee said. “Every New Yorker has the right to expect prompt, preventive treatment without red tape or lack of money standing in their way.”
Jaffee’s legislation provides sexual assault victims, who are found to be at risk for HIV/AIDS following a Forensic Rape Exam, with an increase of post-exposure prophylaxis treatment (PEP.) The new PEP starter pack, now increased from a three-day to a seven-day supply, will ensure that victims have enough medication to avoid a break in their treatment, which seriously compromises PEP’s effectiveness.
“By ensuring sexual assault victims, with their consent, are not only provided with a seven-day starter pack but also appropriate medical follow-up, we will make successful PEP treatment more accessible, decrease the likelihood that victims will become infected with the virus, and by preventing potential HIV/AIDS cases, save lives and the state millions of dollars in treatment costs,” Jaffee said.
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Department of Health, 128,000 New Yorkers are currently living with HIV/AIDS, and New York ranks highest among states with diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS.
Prior to the passage of Jaffee’s law, major bureaucratic hurdles kept many sexual assault victims, at risk for HIV/AIDS, from getting proper medical treatment and follow-up care. Often those at risk would not complete PEP treatment because of their inability to pay for medication while awaiting reimbursement from the Office of Victims Services or fill out the requisite paperwork within three days due to post-assault trauma. The length of time that passed between beginning the three-day starter pack and receiving adequate follow-up care from medical personnel was also cited.
These finding were brought to Jaffee’s attention by victims’ advocacy groups, including the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) and The Center for Safety and Change in Rockland.
“Jaffee’s law is a step forward for increasing HIV/AIDS preventive treatment,” said Carolyn Fish, Executive Director of the Center.
World AIDS Day, observed around the globe on December 1st, encourages public support to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and educating people about the virus. It is also an opportunity to show compassion for those whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS, to commemorate those whose lives were lost, and to celebrate victories, like Jaffee’s law, in the fight against HIV/AIDS.