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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Iris House Launches Programs To Combat Rising HIV Rates Among Women In NYC

Press Release – New York, NY, March 8, 2017 – Commemorating National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10), Iris House announces two exciting new programs in its efforts to end the HIV epidemic for women. Through funding from the NY City Council’s End the Epidemic Initiative Iris House reveals its first outreach van for New York City, and through Viiv Healthcare’s Positive Action for Women Program, a new women’s HIV awareness campaign and support program.

In a ceremony outside Iris House’s central Harlem Office, Executive Director Ingrid Floyd will be joined by members of her staff, clients served by the agency and community leaders to cut the ribbon on Iris House’s newest mobile outreach and testing unit.

“The timing couldn’t be more critical,” said Floyd. “For the first time in a decade, the number of new HIV cases among women living in New York City INCREASED in 2016. Iris House, which has been providing HIV Tests for over a decade in our locations and around the city, now has even greater flexibility to take our programs into the neighborhoods and onto the blocks where they’re needed the most.”

In 2016, there were 34,475 women in New York City living with HIV: 26.8% of the total HIV+ population. 58% of them were African-American and 33% Latina. In fact, the HIV Diagnosis rate among African-Americans was 2.7x higher than Latina/Hispanic women, and 14x higher than white women. 61% of women living with HIV do so in neighborhoods with High or Very High levels of poverty.

“Getting women and girls to know their HIV status is critical: we can connect them with care and provide the supports they need to reach viral suppression. At Iris House, 89.6% of our HIV+ clients have undetectable viral loads,” said Floyd.

In commemoration of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Iris House is expanding its Love Your Life campaign. The photo campaign, which was initially launched in 2017 in partnership with Voces Latinas, raises awareness about HIV in women of color. Love Your Life was originally designed to address women in New York City, but this year Iris House has worked closely with campaign’s creative director, Duane Cramer, to alter and expand the campaign so it can appeal to women across the United States. After holding focus groups with diverse women from across the nation, including both in Oakland, California and Orangeburg, SC, Iris House has added new images to the campaign incorporating the range of ages of women living with HIV and those who should be tested. “We’ve added a younger model with braces and a senior woman who could be a member of your church. These people in the campaign represent women you will notice and say ,’They look like us!’ — and understand that awareness of HIV is everyone’s responsibility,” said Cramer of the new additions.

Iris House received a grant to expand the campaign from ViiV Healthcare as part of their Positive Action for Women initiative. Positive Action for Women provides funding to organizations that work to reduce stigma and isolation for women of color living with HIV and link these women to networks of care. Through this initiative, Iris House has partnered with four organizations: The Afiya Center (Dallas, TX), WORLD (Oakland, CA), Voces Latinas (Queens, NY), and The Minority AIDS Council of Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Calhoun Counties (Orangeburg, SC). Each of our partner organizations will start using the new Love Your Life materials to raise awareness about HIV in their communities via social media.

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