box How it’s spread
box How it’s detected & treated
box What’s being done to fight it

A Report from
Assemblymember Vivian E. Cook
Assemblymember Cook
Vivian E. Cook

District Office
142-15 Rockaway Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11436

Albany Office
Room 331 LOB
Albany, NY 12248


Dear Neighbor,

As of December 2004, there were 67,942 persons living with AIDS and 37,558 persons living with HIV infection in New York State.

Pregnant women who have HIV and do not get treatment have a one in four chance of passing HIV on to their babies. If you get treatment, your chance of passing HIV to your baby is much lower. If you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant, your doctor should talk to you about having an HIV test. If you learn you are HIV infected, you can get treatment to help you and your baby stay healthy.

There is no known cure for HIV. But there are treatments that can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. We all have a stake in fighting the spread of HIV, and our best weapon is knowing the facts about the disease. I hope this brochure encourages you to take an active role in defeating HIV and AIDS and helping those in need.

To find out more, call the numbers listed on this brochure or contact my office.


HIV/AIDS: Questions and Answers.
What are HIV and AIDS?

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV attacks the body’s immune system. Over time, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight life-threatening infections and cancers. AIDS is the last stage of HIV disease.

HIV is spread when body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk, from a person with HIV get into another person’s blood stream. HIV is passed during unprotected sex, needle-sharing activities, or from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Some health care workers have been infected on the job through needle sticks and puncture wounds.

You can’t "catch" HIV like a cold or flu. The virus isn’t spread by insects or through everyday contact with people around you. You can’t be infected with HIV by donating blood, or using a public restroom or drinking fountain.

Who should consider testing?
  • All pregnant women should be tested for HIV as early in pregnancy as possible.
  • Everyone should be tested for HIV as part of regular health check-ups.
  • You should also be tested if you have ever:
    • Shared needles, or works to shoot drugs (even vitamins, insulin or steroids).
    • Shared needles for piercing or tattooing.
    • Had sex without using a latex male condom or a female condom, especially with some one who has ever injected drugs.
    • Had a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
    • Had many sex partners.

Women who are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant should have an HIV test so that if they are infected, they can make decisions about treatment and care for themselves and their pregnancy. Pregnant women with HIV can take medicine to greatly reduce the chance of passing HIV to their babies. The sooner you are tested and learn if you have HIV, the sooner you can start medicines to stay healthy and lower the chances of passing HIV to your baby.

Are HIV test results confidential?

State law protects the confidentiality of the person being tested. When a person tests positive for HIV, the doctor or laboratory reports this to the NYS Department of Health (DOH). This information is completely confidential. It is used by the DOH to track the epidemic and plan needed services. The law has stiff penalties for disclosing test results without proper authorization.

HIV testing can be anonymous and/or confidential. Persons testing at an anonymous HIV test site are identified by a code number and are not required to provide a name.

Should partners be notified?

Anyone who has been exposed to HIV should get HIV counseling and testing so that, if infected, they can get treatment. The doctor or a public health counselor will ask a patient who tests positive to cooperate in notifying partners who may have been exposed to HIV. There are many options for letting partner(s) know of their HIV risk. A person infected with HIV can choose to have a counselor from the Health Department’s PartNer Assistance Program (PNAP) tell partners that they have been exposed to HIV without ever revealing his or her identity; partners can also be notified with the help of the doctor or a PNAP counselor; or they can be told directly by the infected person. In New York City, the Contact Notification Assistance Program (CNAP) can help.

Yes. Recent medical advances show combination therapy - taking three or more drugs to fight HIV - can delay the onset of AIDS in people who are infected with HIV, even those with no outward symptoms. If someone is HIV infected, it is important that they talk to their health care provider about treatment options.

Health experts recommend voluntary tests of those at risk of contracting HIV. While there is no cure for HIV, those infected can lead longer, more productive lives with proper screening and medical treatments.

How can you learn if you’re infected?

People may not know they’re infected because they look and feel healthy. However, they can still spread the infection.

It’s important for anyone at risk for HIV infection to get tested. If they have HIV, they can learn about new treatments to keep them healthy longer and can learn to protect others from HIV infection. If they do not have HIV, they can learn how to stay that way.

Standard HIV testing includes a blood test, or an oral fluid test in which a special pad is used to get fluid from your mouth. There is also a rapid test in which the results are available the same day.

The State Health Department estimates that 37,500 to 50,000 New Yorkers have HIV, but don’t know it because they’ve never been tested.

In most cases, a person cannot be tested for HIV without giving consent. Consent, however, is not required for HIV testing for the Military or Foreign Service, Job Corps, Immigration "green cards" and, in certain circumstances, for inmates in federal prisons.

Some places offer a rapid HIV test in which you can get your results the same day of the visit. If you test positive for HIV with a rapid test, you will have to go back for another test to confirm that you have HIV infection. For a list of HIV testing options near you, visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at:

What Can You Do?
  • Educate yourself about HIV and AIDS, and discuss what you learn with your family and friends.

  • Protect yourself and others by avoiding HIV-risk behavior.

  • If you’re a parent, talk openly with your children about HIV and AIDS and about your concern for their well-being.

  • Parents who find it difficult to talk to their children about HIV and AIDS can have them talk with someone who is trusted, informed and comfortable with the issue (your family doctor, school health educator, local clergy, a relative or a neighbor).

  • Invite an HIV-AIDS counselor or health professional to speak to your community organization.

  • If you know someone with HIV or AIDS, give them the same understanding and compassion you would any other ill person. You cannot get AIDS from casual contact with a person with HIV or AIDS.

Source: NYS Department of Health, AIDS Institute

ribbon Leading the Fight Against

Beginning in 1983, with a $5.25 million budget appropriation, New York State’s AIDS Institute has waged an aggressive battle against the disease through continued funding initiated by the Assembly. Over the years, a total of $1.1 billion has been budgeted for the AIDS Institute.

This funding has been used to combat HIV and AIDS by: developing health services in drug treatment programs, sponsoring AIDS education campaigns, promoting HIV counseling and testing, educating health care professionals and other service providers, improving health care for people with HIV and developing protocols to reduce the risk of HIV infection in occupational settings and in cases of sexual assault.

In the current State Budget, approximately $126 million was dedicated to:
  • improve preventive services, HIV care, access and treatment, and support programs for persons with HIV and their families;
  • programs that provide HIV education, outreach and counseling for people at risk;
  • support adult day care programs to serve persons living with AIDS;
  • provide services to infants with HIV, and family-centered case management and permanency planning for their care-takers and siblings;
  • provide HIV Fellowships to train doctors and nurses to specialize in HIV care;
  • improve health care services in drug treatment facilities, including treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (which may be associated with the spread of HIV);
  • expand outreach and education to substance abusers and increase HIV education and counseling for this at-risk group; and
  • provide comprehensive HIV outreach and prevention services to adolescents, women and other at-risk groups.

To Learn More...

To learn more about HIV and AIDS and where to get a free, anonymous HIV test, call the NYS HIV/AIDS Hotlines:

These calls are confidential; you don’t have to give your name.
For free publications on HIV/AIDS, such as:
  • AIDS, 100 Questions & Answers
  • Protect Yourself and Your Baby from HIV and AIDS
  • Reasons To Get An HIV Test
    Write to:
    NYS Department of Health, AIDS Institute, ESP,
    Corning Tower, Room 259,
    Albany, NY 12237; or,
    call: 518-474-9866; or,
For more information:
Visit the NYS Department of Health Web site at: or Centers for Disease Control at:
  • National Prevention Information Network on HIV and AIDS: 1-800-458-5231 or, Web site:
  • CDC Info Line: 1-800-232-4636