21ST SENATE DISTRICT
MINORITY WHIP OF THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE
Today as the world turns its focus on the pandemic we know as HIV/AIDS, I call on us a community to face this disease together in mutual cooperation and with committed effort in an aim to overcome its devastating impact. In the past quarter century or so this disease has touched millions of lives including my own and many people in my Senate district. I watched my own brother who was an intravenous drug user, waste away from this awful, debilitating disease. It is a painful burden to bear. And so I understand what it is like for the millions of families around the world who live through a similar experience. The impact of this reality was reawakened in me when I learned that the 11225 zip code, which is located in my Senate district, has the highest incidence of AIDS in the country. My call to action at the time was to launch an HIV/AIDS Task Force and a 12-month issue-based HIV/AIDS Campaign called “What’s Your Code?” I am proud of the work that this Task Force has been able to accomplish. But I know that there is still a lot more to be done. Even so, I share the belief that there is nothing that beats the individual effort of taking personal responsibility for our actions, our health and our lives. Therefore, as we engage in this dialogue throughout this month of December, I encourage us to focus on issues of education and prevention with the same intensity as we do testing and treatment. And on this World AIDS Day, I recommit myself first as an individual to take personal responsibility by being tested as I have done every year. Then, as an elected official, I commit to doing all within my power to support the individuals and families who are still dealing with the ongoing social stigmas surrounding this disease while battling the medical issues they must confront.