To Kick-off Pride Month, De Blasio Administration Publishes New York City's First-ever LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights

City also launches “Bare It All” ad campaign, featuring the Health Department’s Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, to encourage New Yorkers to find a new doctor if they can’t talk openly about their sex lives

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June 6, 2017 — To kick-off Pride Month, the de Blasio Administration today published and distributed New York City’s first-ever LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights, which details health care protections on local, state and federal levels to empower LGBTQ New Yorkers to get the health care they deserve. It also reiterates that medical providers and their support staff are legally required to offer LGBTQ New Yorkers quality care regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The bill of rights will be distributed on posters and wallet cards at clinics and health centers across the city.

The Health Department also launched a new, citywide sexual health awareness campaign, “Bare It All.” The provocative and groundbreaking campaign emboldens LGBTQ New Yorkers to talk openly with their doctors about their sex lives, drug use and any issues that affect their health. It also encourages New Yorkers to find a health care provider who allows patients to share details of their lives without judgment. The campaign will appear on the subway, MTA bus stands and online in both English and Spanish.

“Pride Month is not only a time to celebrate how far we have come, but also decide how we are going to move forward together,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City has long been a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, and these ads are further evidence of the City’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to quality, affordable and judgment-free healthcare regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We have no tolerance for discrimination, and are proud to stand with the LGBTQ community because we know the fight is far from over.”

“The LGBTQ Health Care Bill Of Rights is a groundbreaking effort, essential to understanding and eliminating health disparities for individuals who live at the intersection of many cultural backgrounds and experience stigma at every corner. Our LGBTQ New Yorkers have diverse health needs and they should not be discriminated against or overlooked,” says First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray, who leads the city’s mental health efforts. “The Bare It All campaign is refreshing and shamelessly unapologetic — totally in tune with New Yorkers who will not be silenced.”

“Equitable, judgment-free, comprehensive health care is a right that every New Yorker deserves, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “As a physician, I know firsthand that having respectful, open conversations is essential to developing trust with patients and ensuring the best possible outcomes for their health.”

“As the city celebrates Pride, we have a clear message for all New Yorkers: it is your right to be treated with dignity and professionalism by your doctor, no matter who you have sex with or what your gender identity is. If you are not treated respectfully, find a new doctor,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “New York City has made tremendous progress in the protection and promotion of LGBTQ health, and the new Health Care Bill of Rights and the Bare It All ad campaign will increase awareness about sexual health and bring us closer to achieving health equity.”

“Everyone in New York City deserves equal quality healthcare, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis. “The LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights reminds every LGBTQ New Yorker that they have a legal right to professional healthcare without discrimination and that no one can deny you coverage or benefits because of who you are. Everyone’s health matters and this timely campaign by the City’s Health Department will go a long way to ensure that LGBTQ New Yorkers get the healthcare, respect, and dignity they deserve.”

“We need to empower LGBTQ people with the knowledge that their health matters and with strategies to access the best possible culturally responsive health care,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control. “As an openly gay man and a leader in health in New York City, you would expect that my physician would have made me feel comfortable about discussing my life. When that didn't happen, I had to find a physician that made me feel confident in sharing my personal details. Since then, my care has become better and more complete now that I have a doctor with an awareness of who I am and how I can achieve my best possible health. Silence and fear should not be the reason that people get sick.”

Both the “Bare It All” campaign and the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights were designed as tools to make health care services more accessible for and accountable to LGBTQ New Yorkers. For the campaign, the Health Department surveyed local providers to create a directory of over 100 LGBTQ-knowledgeable providers that New Yorkers can access from the NYC Health Map, which is available at nyc.gov, and through 311. If any New Yorker believes they have been mistreated or denied care or services because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or have witnessed health care discrimination, please contact the New York City Commission on Human Rights to file a complaint by calling 718-722-3131 or 311.

These two new efforts are also part of the City’s plan to End the Epidemic, a $23 million investment in FY 2017 to increase HIV prevention and health care programming that will benefit nearly 200,000 New Yorkers per year when fully implemented. The plan aims to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York City to 600 by 2020 as part of a statewide goal of no more than 750 cases per year by 2020. The Health Department also expanded HIV and STI services and hours of operations at its recently rebranded Sexual Health Clinics. Additional information about the City’s low- to no-cost Sexual Health Clinics is available here.

New York City continues to lead the nation in protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community. In December 2015, the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued legal enforcement guidance defining specific gender identity protections under the City Human Rights Law, including equal bathroom access. In March 2016, Mayor de Blasio issued an executive order requiring City agencies to ensure that employees and members of the public are given equal access to City single-sex facilities without being required to show identification, medical documentation or any other form of proof or verification of gender. In June 2016, New York City became the first municipality to launch a citywide campaign specifically affirming the right of transgender individuals to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression.

The Administration has also enhanced services to address LGBTQ homelessness, including opening a 24-hour drop-in center in Harlem specializing in the LGBTQI community, and the first-ever City-funded transitional independent living homes with specialized services for transgender youth. Earlier this year, the de Blasio Administration opened Marsha’s House—named after famed LGBTQI activist Marsha P. Johnson—in the Bronx, the first-ever shelter for LGBTQI young persons in the New York City adult shelter system, offering nearly 90 homeless individuals 30 years and under the opportunity to be sheltered in a welcoming and supportive space providing targeted resources. The Administration has also funded 500 additional beds for runaway and homeless youth, all of which are available to LGBTQ youth. During FY18, the total number of beds brought online will expand to 653, with a total of 753 by end of FY19.

City agencies and Administration officials will also participate in Pride events in all five boroughs this month. DOHMH will distribute safer sex products as well as health literature and other promotional materials. More information about these events can be found here.

“I commend DOHMH Commissioner Bassett for detailing the rights and protections of LGBTQ+ people in health care access and protections,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “This health care bill of rights affirms equality in preventative care and treatment, as well as emphasizes the importance of cultural competency training in a judgment-free environment, which is exactly what we need to further promote on the march to full equality.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: "Studies show (PDF) that LGBTQ people suffer disproportionately from substance abuse, depression, and sexually transmitted infections. Given historic biases within the medical community, members of our community are also far less likely to have access to quality care. By expanding access to quality, stigma-free care the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights represents an important step in fixing these inequities. In the face of a federal administration indifferent to the needs of LGBTQ people, I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio, DOHMH Commissioner Bassett, and Dr. Daskalakis for standing with our community."

"Experience tells us that silence equals death," said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. "On pride month, it is vital that we keep HIV/AIDS in the public consciousness. Generations before us took to the streets to win us the progress we have achieved and we owe it to those pioneers to continue the fight. I applaud Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and the Health Department for reminding all of us that we are our own best advocates."

“The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is making big progress by publishing the City’s first-ever LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights. Under the current federal administration, the LGBTQ community is under attack and severely impacted by a loss of necessary services. It is crucial that our City helps connect our community to the existing available services,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Chair, LGBT Caucus.

“No matter who you love or how you identify, each and every person deserves compassionate, quality health care delivered with understanding and respect,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “It’s important that all LGBTQ New Yorkers feel empowered to take a stand if a health care provider does not show courtesy and respect. As a proud openly gay member of the City Council, I thank the Health Department for their work to ensure all in the LGBTQ community know their rights when it comes to health care.”

"The message this bill of rights and campaign send is crystal clear: LGBTQ New Yorkers have a right to quality healthcare," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "Everyone should be able to speak openly and honestly to their doctor, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. New Yorkers who are unfairly treated should fire their doctor and seek out a professional who will respect them for who they are. I applaud the Health Department for leading this effort which will make NYC a healthier and safer place for all."

“More inclusive health care, especially for sexual health, requires new cultural competencies from providers. The LGBTQ community is finding new ways to identify, or not to identify at all. The LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights and “Bare it All” campaign will help New Yorkers secure medical services that respect their gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. LGBTQ people who are informed and empowered can hold health care providers accountable for the quality of service they deserve,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

"The city is sending a strong message that every New Yorker has a right to quality healthcare. No one in the LGBTQ community should have to bear any stigma, or feel that they have to hide a part of themselves, especially from their doctor," said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“New York City is a national leader in LGBTQ health-related public policy,” said Council Member James Vacca. “All New Yorkers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect when seeking out health care. With the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights, we affirm that we as a city are committed to meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for their commitment to the LGBTQ community.”

“A significant part of our work at The LGBT Community Center is to connect our clients to culturally competent, quality care, and the Department of Health's new LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights will help us take vast strides in empowering clients to know and exercise their rights,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “In the current political climate, when the future of access to healthcare continues to be uncertain, we applaud the NYC Department of Health for stepping up once again to set an example for the entire country that LGBT rights are human rights, and must be protected and advanced.”

“Community Healthcare Network (CHN) is fully supportive of the Health Department’s efforts to increase quality and improve access to health care services for LGBTQ individuals,” said Dr. Luis Freddy Molano, Vice President of Infectious Diseases and LGBT Programs for CHN. “Every individual, LGBTQ or otherwise, should have access to judgement-free, culturally and clinically competent health care. At CHN we firmly believe that LGBTQ health care is a universal right that should be available to each person in their own community. All medical providers should be competent in addressing the needs of LGBTQ individuals and should provide care in continuity with the patients’ other health services.”

“Callen-Lorde Community Health Center fully embraces the Health Department’s latest commitment to improve the health of LGBTQ New Yorkers,” said Wendy Stark, Executive Director for Callen-Lorde, a federally qualified health care center which targets LGBTQ communities. “We enthusiastically support the Bare it All campaign and the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights as a set of meaningful tools to disassemble the barriers that drive LGBTQ health disparities — from stigma, to lack of cultural competency to disregard of existing laws and protections we’ve worked so hard to put in place. These welcomed efforts will also go a long way toward ending the HIV epidemic fueled, too, by stigmas and inequities. We applaud the Health Department for boldly investing in the health of LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

"We at the Bronx Trans Health Space (BTHS) know how hard it can be for some patients to open up about their sexual practices,” said Mister Cris, Program Manager at BTHS and Executive Director for CK Life. “However, we have found that having an open, honest dialogue makes for better health outcomes so we use a sex-positive and judgment-free approach to health care. That's why I think the Bare It All campaign is GREAT!”

"These two initiatives represent a major step towards LGBTQ New Yorkers feeling safe and secure in their ability to access affirming and supportive healthcare in NYC”, said Chris Fasser, Chair of the NYC LGBTQ Health Equity Coalition. “Being open about our health concerns, and knowing that we are protected through our local laws, is crucial in driving full health equity for our LGBTQ community."

“The NYC Health Department continues to innovate when it comes to addressing the needs of LGBTQ New Yorkers,” said Cristina Herrera, founder and CEO of the Translatina Network. “The Bare It All campaign and the LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights will empower our community to have open and affirming conversations with their healthcare providers. Our community will be empowered to "fire their doctor" and, when necessary, file a complaint if they have been mistreated.”

#PlaySure Kit
In December 2015, the Health Department launched PlaySure — a novel health marketing campaign to prevent HIV and other STIs, followed by StaySure in 2016. The goal of these sex-positive campaigns is to reach all New Yorkers and encourage them to choose their preferred HIV and STI prevention tools, regardless of their HIV status. To complement these efforts, the Health Department developed an innovative safer sex toolkit, the #PlaySure Kit. The #PlaySure Kit can hold everything New Yorkers need to play sure – condoms, lubricant, and their preferred prevention pill (PrEP, PEP, or HIV meds). Nearly 135,000 kits have been distributed to New Yorkers since World AIDS Day 2015, when it was originally unveiled. The kit helps New Yorkers design a safer sex plan that fits their sex lives and safer sex practices. #PlaySure Kits are available for free at the Sexual Health Clinics as well as participating community-based organizations and many community events throughout the year. Distribution locations are also available by calling 311.

NYC Condom
In 2016, the Health Department and its partners distributed more than 38 million condoms at 3,500 diverse locations in New York City, including bars, clubs, restaurants, nail salons, barber shops, hospitals, clinics, and community-based organizations. When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancies and offer effective protection against most STIs, including HIV. The City’s effort to increase the availability of condoms has contributed to citywide declines in teen pregnancy rates, STI rates, and HIV rates. To find free NYC Condoms, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/condoms. To learn more about condom use and sexual health or to download the free NYC Condom Finder app, please visit facebook.com/NYCcondom.

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