GMHC to Advocate: Amidst Transition, Still on the Front Lines of the Fight

As the nation's oldest provider of HIV/AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, we know that everyone in our community has a stake in a strong GMHC. We understand that, in selecting new leadership, now is an important moment in GMHC's history.

We want to reassure the community that we are working hard to address the challenges reiterated yet again in this month's Advocate, even as we continue to provide and grow our vital services.

We are moving quickly yet thoughtfully and carefully to identify the agency's next Chief Executive Officer who will push the organization forward, fulfilling our critical mission while addressing any lingering issues such as our office space. A national search is currently underway, led by Board Secretary Roberta Kaplan, Esq. in partnership with an experienced executive search firm. We are stimulated by the opportunity to select new, engaged and energetic leadership for the years ahead.

At the same time our daily, frontline work continues, as we work to bring HIV/AIDS below epidemic levels in NYC. Our programs serve close to 9,000 New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS each year.

We have also taken the following steps to expand services for people living with HIV/AIDS and for vulnerable populations:

Winning the Rent Cap: We worked with Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to bring much needed rent protection and assistance to the 10,000 low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Last month, the two announced a plan capping rent contributions in this population at 30 percent of their income -- the culmination of a 7-year campaign by GMHC and its allies.

  • Focus on Prevention in Vulnerable Populations: GMHC has been aggressively expanding our programming to prevent new infections among black and Hispanic gay men, as recently reported by The New York Times. Earlier this year we received two substantial grants to enhance our prevention education and testing work:1.5 million for five years targeted toward Puerto Rican gay men, and116,000 targeted toward LGBT youth of color. This increased focus on prevention will continue to grow in 2014.

  • Expanding Core Services for Those Living With HIV/AIDS: Our core services for people living with HIV/AIDS are expanding. GMHC just received two major grants that will help us expand our scope and reach to this community:1.2 million for a three-year pilot program focused on assisting people living with AIDS in job training and placement; and9.6 million, for three years, devoted to providing housing and rental assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Connection to Care: We've been engaged in a multi-year pilot program with Mount Sinai Hospital that has resulted in tremendous success: of a cohort of consumers who have tested positive at GMHC, 90 percent of those who were connected to treatment on the same day of their diagnosis were later reported as virally suppressed. This is an exciting development, and we look forward to sharing more in-depth analysis of this program, which we believe could serve as a national model for potential replication.

    Over the past year, the entertainment media has elevated HIV/AIDS awareness by featuring the history of the epidemic, and brought GMHC back into the spotlight. Dallas Buyers Club was the winner of three Academy Awards (and was nominated for six); in May, HBO will debut its adaptation of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, which tells the story of GMHC's founding.

    All this attention gives our community a moment to reflect and, at the same time, serves to remind us that HIV/AIDS is not over -- and that GMHC's work remains as important as ever. GMHC firmly believes that, in this moment in history, we can -- and must -- eradicate AIDS as an epidemic.

    We look forward to announcing GMHC's next CEO as soon as possible. We are grateful for your continued support. Thank you.

    Myron Sulzberger Rolfe, is the Chair of the GMHC Board of Directors. Roberta Kaplan is the Secretary of the GMHC Board of Directors.