Health Department Expands Hours and Services at Corona Sexual Health Clinic, Launches Second “¡LISTOS!” Campaign

The Corona clinic, which serves more Spanish-speaking patients than any of the City’s eight Sexual Health Clinics, will now be open five days a week

The new version of ¡Listos! promotes HIV testing, prevention and treatment among Latino men who have sex with men (MSM)

In 2016, Latino gay and bisexual men and other MSM accounted for over 20 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in New York City

October 15, 2018 – To commemorate National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day, the Health Department today announced the expansion of services and hours at the Corona Sexual Health Clinic and the second installment of the ¡Listos!,” campaign. ¡Listos!“¡Listos!”, which translates to “Ready!,” was the Health Department’s first awareness campaign to be conceived of and largely released in Spanish. The new version promotes HIV testing, prevention, and treatment among Latino gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Latino MSM are a steadily growing share of New Yorkers diagnosed with HIV and in 2016 comprised over 20 percent of all new diagnoses in the city. The campaign was unveiled at the Corona Sexual Health Clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, which serves more Spanish-speaking patients than any of the agency’s eight Sexual Health Clinics. The Clinic is now open five days a week (instead of two) and offers expanded services, including same-day initiation of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a safe, daily pill that greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection, and quick start contraception. The Health Department commemorated National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day with an outdoor community health fair featuring free HIV and tuberculosis testing, flu vaccinations, and naloxone training.

“National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is a wonderful opportunity to address the stigma of HIV in the Latino community,” said Acting Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The launch of the second installment of our ‘¡Listos!’ campaign and expanding the hours of our Corona Sexual Health Clinic will provide more access to HIV testing and PrEP, which is crucial in combating the HIV epidemic. These measures will get us one step closer to our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in New York City by 2020.”

¡Listos!“Improving access to PrEP, HIV testing, and HIV treatment services for Latino gay and bisexual men and other MSM is key to improving the health of this community,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control. “By being culturally and linguistically responsive, we hope ‘¡Listos!’ will help raise awareness of the many options available to prevent HIV and its complications in a community overrepresented in our city’s HIV epidemic.”

“The ‘¡Listos!’ campaign exemplifies the Health Department’s commitment to advancing health equity and racial justice,” said Dr. Oni Blackstock, Assistant Commissioner for the Health Department’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control. “It is our goal that by taking a strengths-based, sex-positive approach, the campaign will empower Latino MSM to take control of their sexual health by getting tested and treated for HIV, and by considering PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy.”

In New York City, in 2016, Latino MSM had the highest number of new HIV diagnoses across all racial/ethnic groups of MSM in New York City. To ensure the new “¡Listos!” campaign resonates with Latino MSM, the Health Department solicited feedback from select members of the New York City HIV Planning Group, a community advisory body focused on HIV prevention, and held five consumer focus groups – four in Spanish and one in English. The Health Department recently established a community advisory board (CAB) comprised of Latino MSM and their providers. The Project Sol (Strengthening outreach and linkage) CAB works to ensure that the Health Department’s high-impact HIV prevention activities and partner services for Latino MSM are addressing the needs of Latino MSM in an affirming and culturally responsive manner. Like the first installment of “¡Listos!”, the campaign encourages New Yorkers to consider PrEP as part of their sexual health toolkit, but it tailors the message to resonate with Latino MSM.The new campaign will appear in local newspapers, at local businesses, on the radio, and on digital media.

In addition to“¡Listos!”, the Health Department will release a Dear Colleague Letter encouraging medical providers to support the sexual health of Latino MSM. The letter asks providers to ensure a welcoming clinical environment to encourage Latino MSM to seek care and disclose their sexuality; offer regular screening for HIV and other STIs; and discuss PrEP as an HIV prevention option, particularly with men who express interest in PrEP or have a recent diagnosis of a bacterial STI. The letter also asks providers to inform men – regardless of their HIV status – that HIV treatment can quickly reduce one’s viral load to an undetectable level, which protects the health of people with HIV and their sexual partners.

“The ‘¡Listos!’ campaign promotes HIV testing, prevention, and treatment in the Latino gay and bisexual community, where there's been an increase in New Yorkers diagnosed with HIV,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “I urge everyone at risk to take advantage of this program.”

“Broadening access to life-saving measures like PrEP is crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. ‘‘¡Listos!’ will ensure that gay and bisexual men from the Latino community are aware of the full-range of HIV prevention options available to them. Thank you to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Latino Commission on AIDS for spearheading this critical awareness campaign.”

"The relaunched 'Listos' campaign and expanded services at the Corona Sexual Health Clinic will connect our City's Latino population to critical resources and services to prevent new HIV diagnoses, while improving the quality of life of those afflicted by the disease," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “As the Ranking Member of the Senate Health Committee, I look forward to continue working with our City's administration to ensure that we implement policies to eradicate AIDS in our City and our State by 2020.”

“The ¡Listos! Campaign has been ready from day one to tackle a fact that society has taken a long time to recognize — that health intersects communities and personal identities on many levels, so we need to offer services proactively and with cultural precision,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration, and member of the LGBTQ Caucus. “The best way to do this, as has always been the case, is to give communities a seat at the table when crafting policy, and to communicate directly with them through ethnic media. As an openly gay Latino man, I know how hard this is, which is why I wholeheartedly support the ¡Listos! Campaign’s new outreach effort which is based precisely on this type of community engagement.”

“Campaigns like this are critical to making a real difference in HIV and AIDS prevention,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “Not only does this effort provide a practical medical response but it battles the stigma and information gap which, when it comes to HIV and AIDS, are potentially deadly actors themselves. I applaud launching the second ‘¡Listos!’ campaign to spread awareness and increase access to HIV testing, prevention and treatment.”

“The expansion of the Corona Sexual Health Clinic is great news for residents of Northwest Queens,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Latinx New Yorkers who are gay, bisexual and those who identify differently but have sex with men are disproportionately impacted by HIV.  These additional days of operation and expanded services will help us end the epidemic in NYC by 2020.  I thank the Health Department for launching the ¡Listos! campaign and prioritizing this important work.”

“This year’s National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) theme, ‘Ending HIV is Everyone’s Job,’ highlights the important role both individuals and communities play in addressing the impact of HIV and working together to end the HIV epidemic,” said Luis Mares, Director of Community Mobilization for Latino Commission on AIDS. “We seek to bring awareness around taking the HIV test, seeking PrEP, connecting ourselves to care, and reaching HIV viral suppression and becoming undetectable. We all have the job to defeat HIV/AIDS. In its 16th year, since its inception in 2003, NLAAD continues to evolve in addressing the varying intersections of HIV/AIDS and social/structural conditions that incite the disproportionate impact of the epidemic on Hispanic/Latinx communities.”

“The new ‘¡Listos!’ campaign is a collaborative and culturally affirming response to the HIV epidemic that affects Latinos in New York City,” said Hugo Cesar Ovejero, Director of Programs at Voces Latinas. “I’m proud to be part of this initiative that involves community members and the New York City Health Department. It is important to create a message developed by Latinos for Latinos.”

“As someone who identifies as a Latino MSM, I truly appreciate the great work that the New York City Health Department has been doing for our Latino community,” said Mauricio F. Espinoza, Program Coordinator at Mount Sinai Institute for Advanced Medicine. “As Latino gay and bisexual men, at times we don’t have a voice, but it is great to know that we are not alone and that we have allies to fight for us and provide us with new and innovative ways to take care of ourselves and our sexual health.”   

The Health Department is committed to addressing the HIV and STI prevention, care, and treatment needs of all New Yorkers. Services and initiatives include:

Sexual Health Clinics

The City’s eight Sexual Health Clinics offer low- to no-cost sexual health services to anyone 12 or older, regardless of immigration status or insurance coverage. The Corona Sexual Health Clinic continues to provide state-of-the-art prevention services including:

  • Express STI testing. STIs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia often have no symptoms and can cause irreversible damage if left untreated. Anyone 12 or older can receive screening for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, even if they have no symptoms.
  • Emergency post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). All eight Sexual Health Clinics offer the full, 28-day course of PEP, making this emergency medication more convenient for patients with possible recent exposure to HIV. The clinics administer the entire regimen, including all of the monitoring and follow-up care, and they can facilitate the transition from emergency PEP to daily PrEP.
  • JumpstART. Through the JumpstART program, patients living with or recently diagnosed with HIV, who are not currently on treatment, can immediately initiate HIV medication on the day of visit with linkage to longer-term HIV primary care.
  • Counseling services. All Sexual Health Clinics have social workers onsite who can help patients with a variety of issues, including substance use and depression.

The Corona Sexual Health Clinic also provides the following expanded sexual health services:

  • PrEP initiation and navigation. Offering same-day initiation of PrEP in the Sexual Health Clinics reduces many of the barriers patients experience and brings this epidemic-ending intervention closer to people who may not otherwise access PrEP. Eligible patients can initiate PrEP at the Corona Sexual Health Clinic with navigation to longer-term primary care.
  • Quick start contraception. Eligible patients who are at risk of unintended pregnancy can initiate contraception at the Corona Sexual Health Clinic with navigation to longer-term primary care.

Be Sure, Play Sure, Stay Sure

In December 2015, the Health Department launched Play Sure – a novel health marketing campaign to prevent HIV and other STIs – followed by Stay Sure in 2016. The goal of these sex-positive campaigns is to reach all New Yorkers and encourage them to choose their preferred tools to prevent HIV and other STIs, regardless of their HIV status. To complement these efforts, the Health Department developed the #PlaySure Kit, an innovative safer sex toolkit designed to hold everything New Yorkers need to “play sure,” such as condoms, lube, and the prevention pills of their choice (e.g., PrEP, PEP, or HIV medications). The kit helps New Yorkers design a safer sex plan that fits their lifestyles and needs. Since the #PlaySure Kit was unveiled on World AIDS Day 2015, over 148,000 have been distributed. #PlaySure Kits are available for free at the City’s Sexual Health Clinics as well as at participating community-based organizations and community events throughout the year. Distribution locations are also available by calling 311.

PlaySure Network

In 2016, clinical and non-clinical providers across New York City partnered to create the PlaySure Network for HIV prevention. Medical clinics and front-line community partners work together to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to services, including HIV testing, HIV treatment, and PrEP and PEP. PlaySure Network members work collaboratively to:

  • Promote patient-specific approaches to sexual health and HIV prevention; 
  • Increase access to PrEP and PEP for people (especially those without insurance) who may be exposed to HIV, including gay and bisexual men, transgender people, and people who have a partner living with HIV; and
  • Link people who test positive for HIV, or those who are HIV-positive and out of care, to HIV care services so they can get treated and become virally suppressed.

Currently, over 45 clinics, hospitals, and community-based organizations across the city are members of the PlaySure Network.

These efforts are supported by Mayor de Blasio’s Ending the Epidemic (ETE) plan, which aims to end the HIV epidemic in New York City by 2020. The plan includes a $23 million investment to reduce the number of new HIV infections, improve viral suppression rates and other health outcomes among people with HIV, strengthen the City’s STI prevention infrastructure and dismantle HIV stigma – all using a racial justice and health equity approach. Last year,the Health Department announced that 2,279 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2016, down 8.6 percent from 2015 and representing an all-time low since HIV reporting began in 2001.

“Health of Latinos in New York City”

Last September, the Health Department released “Health of Latinos in New York City,” the agency’s first-ever comprehensive report of 51 indicators describing the health of the largest Latino heritage groups in New York City, including Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, and Central and South Americans. The report highlights key demographics and the socioeconomic, housing, and neighborhood conditions that may affect the health of Latino New Yorkers. It also examines three critical public health areas: healthy living, health status and health care, and birth and death outcomes.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/ Danielle De Souza, ‪(347) 396-4177, PressOffice@health.nyc.gov