Tri-County Steering Committee Minutes March 9, 2022



March 9, 2022, 10:05-11:30am

By Zoom Videoconference


Members Present:       S. Altaf (Co-chair), J. Palmer (Co-chair), D. Ahmed, A. Contreras, M. Diaz, D. Dominguez, J. Gago, L. Hakim, G. Harriman, B. Malloy, K. Mandel, C. Oldi, M. Piazza, A. Pizarro, L. Reid, S. Richmond, A. Ruggiero, V. Schneider, K. Scott, S. Spiegler (for G. Plummer), S. Thomas

Members Absent:        M. Acevedo, V. Alvarez, L. Bucknor, L. Beal, L. Best, M. G. Ferone, A. Hardman, D. Scholar, A. Simmons

Staff Present:              NYC DOHMH: D. Klotz, J. Acosta, J. Colon-Berdecia, R. James, G. Navoa, D. Ferdinand; Public Health Solutions: S. Gillis; CHAIN: D. Norman; NYSDOH AIDS Institute: W. Patterson

Agenda Item 1: Opening/Moment of Silence/Minutes/Announcements/Public Comment

Mr. Altaf and Mr. Palmer opened the meeting followed by introductions and a moment of silence.  The minutes of the February 9, 2022 meeting were approved with no changes. 

Mr. Dominguez announced his retirement after 30 years of public service.  Mr. Palmer acknowledged his outstanding work at TOUCH and the Committee thanked him for his dedication to serving people with HIV and the community on the Tri-County Steering Committee, at TOUCH and beyond.  There were well wishes for an enjoyable and well-deserved retirement.

Agenda Item #2: Updates

Consumer Update

Ms. Diaz thanked the Committee for their recent expressions of support for her.  She reported that consumers in Living Together are experiencing a large number of health issues, many related to aging, some to long-term use of medication. 

Planning Council Update

Mr. Harriman and Mr. Klotz reported that the next full Council meeting will be held on March 24th and will include an update on the Statewide Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan, which will involve the Council and planning bodies from across the state.  The Plan will incorporate existing documents, including the NYS Ending the Epidemic (ETE) and federally funded Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) plans. 

The Consumers Committee is working on addressing the unique needs of youth and young adults ages 13-29 with HIV in the NY EMA.  The Integration of Care Committee is working on a new service directive that bundles three current NYC categories (Mental Health Services, Harm Reduction, and Supportive Counseling) into one large Behavioral Health category.  The Needs Assessment Committee is continuing its work on a comprehensive needs assessment with the goal to complete it by the end of 2022.

The Priority Setting & Resource Allocation Committee will vote next week on the GY 2022 (March 1, 2022-Feb. 28, 2023) spending plan.  They have already approved the Steering Committee’s request for flat funding in GY 2022, even in a scenario where the overall grant award is reduced.  Any shortfall will be made up through savings in carrying costs to NYC programs and a temporary reduction to the ADAP allocation, which will be made who through reprogramming and carryover funds. 

The Data Collection Workgroup had its first meeting to address data collection challenges of the RWPA program.  The Committee will center its values on supporting consumers and their effective engagement in care.  The AIDS Institute and HRSA have been invited to participate.    

Recipient Update

Mr. Spiegler reported that on February 7, the HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) observed National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with the goal of closing health inequities.  2022 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment will take place August 23-26, with limited in-person attendance and open virtual participation.  The HRSA RWHAP has a new website:  The EMA has a new Project Officer, Axel Reyes, starting on March 1st.  He has over 25 years of professional and volunteer experience in HIV prevention and care services domestically and internationally. 

The NY EMA Quality Management Committee reconvened on February 10th co-facilitated by the HIV Care and Treatment Program (CTP) Quality Management (QM) Unit and the NY State Department of Health AIDS Institute (AI) Quality Management Program.  Over 25 stakeholders attended. 

On December 20th, PHS, on behalf of the CTP, released the RWPA Services in the Tri-County Region Rental Assistance Program RFP, with programs starting June 1st.   PHS also released the Oral Health Care Services in New York City RFP on February 7th and funded programs are set to start on September 1st.  Five organizations were awarded with the EIS funding released through the Playsure network 2.0. Programs start on 3/1/2022. 

On January 12th, PHS released the Ending the Epidemic in New York City: The Undetectables Viral Load Suppression Program and Crystal Methamphetamine Harm Reduction Services RFP, with programs starting July 1st.

Congress is set to pass a budget this week, which means that the full RWPA award should be received within two months (partial awards were made to keep programs funded).

Agenda Item #3: 2020 HIV Epi and Surveillance Update for Tri-County

Ms. Patterson presented the 2020 HIV data for Tri-County, starting with an overview of how HIV data is collected (through lab reporting, medical record review, provider reporting, NYSDOH partner services, and data matching).  TC has one of the lowest rates of new infection of any region in the State (4.3 per 100,000).  In 2020, there were 56 new diagnoses in the region (slightly over 40 in Westchester, around 15 in Rockland, and one in Putnam; rates by population were higher in Westchester).  This continues downward trends that have been going on for several years, with the number in Westchester dropping significantly.  The drop in new diagnoses may be related to the significantly drop in HIV testing rates with the advent of the COVID pandemic.  Testing has ticked up somewhat but is still far below the pre-pandemic levels.  The percent of people with behavioral risks for HIV who got tested in 2020 was 12.5% (down from 17.3% in 2019). 

Seventy-nine percent of new diagnoses are among males, 43% were Black, 27% Hispanic and 29% White, 52% MSM and 25% heterosexual.  Blacks and MSM are overrepresented compared to the general population.  New Diagnoses were spread out fairly evenly across age groups from 20-59.  The highest impacted group are Black MSM aged 13-24, MSM 25-34, and Black women over 25.  There were 15 concurrent HIV/AIDS diagnoses, a higher percentage than 2019.  Rates of linkage to care for TC are comparable to the rest of the State.  TC has the highest rate of entry to care within 90 days of diagnosis. 

There are a total of 3530 PWH in TC.  A geographic distribution was shown, with the highest concentration in lower Westchester, as well as higher prevalence in Spring Valley and Peekskill.  The race/ethnicity demographics of the overall population of PWH is similar to those with new diagnoses.  Women make up a higher proportion of PWH (34%), and those 50 and older are the majority of all PWH.  Heterosexual contact makes up a larger proportion of transmission risk for the overall PWH population.  There are 35 transgender PWH in TC.  TC viral suppression rates (at 79% of those diagnosed in 2020) are comparable to the rest of the State. 

A summary of the ensuing discussion follows:

  • The State does collect data on sex at birth and current sex but reporting of transmission risk factor is unclear (e.g., whether it is lumped into the MSM category).
  • Data by county can be obtained through the NYSDOH HIV data website.
  • While the amount of testing has trended up as of mid-2021, it is unknown what the overall trends for 2021 will be yet.

The next Committee meeting will be held on April 13th, 10am.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.