Rutgers School of Public Health Dean, Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, and Ms. Judith M. Persichilli, Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, spoke to NJ Spotlight on the strides New Jersey is making to end the AIDS epidemic, with the State on track for a record drop in new HIV/AIDS cases this year.
The news comes as an Ending the AIDS Epidemic Plan – first outlined one year ago at the School’s second annual World AIDS Day commemoration – is being finalized to advance Governor Phil Murphy’s goal to end new infections in New Jersey by 2025 as part of a global campaign to reduce stigma and increase access to medical care and support services. The Plan, which advocates hope will be released early next year, highlights the need for stakeholders to work together to address the biological, social, and structural aspects of the disease.
“The Plan recognizes that there are social inequities that drive this epidemic,” said Dr. Halkitis, who is also the Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies and serves on the State’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic Taskforce. “Meds alone are not enough to combat the disease,” he added.
While it is not yet clear what might be driving down new cases, those involved with AIDS policy note that New Jersey has worked to expand access to testing, treatment, and preventive medications; they also credit increased public awareness and the continued dedication of local AIDS groups.
Both Dr. Halkitis and Ms. Persichilli spoke at the School’s third annual World AIDS Day commemoration, “HIV Politics & Policy: A Solutions-Based Approach,” echoing the need for stakeholders to continue to work together to address the complex disease in ways that will save lives and eventually put an end to the epidemic.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 20