In Celebration of NYC Pride, Health Department Launches New Sexual Health Marketing Campaign, “Made Equal”

“Made Equal” promotes Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, or U = U, a scientific fact that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners

Health Department was the first U.S. government agency to officially join the U = U movement; today, more than 870 partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have joined

Among people receiving HIV medical care in New York City in 2017, 85% were virally suppressed

two men are kissing while embracing

June 10, 2019 — The Health Department today released a new sexual health marketing campaign, “Made Equal,” which promotes the evidence-based finding that HIV cannot be passed through sex if the virus is undetectable. HIV treatment is safe and more effective than ever, and can reduce the amount of virus in the body to an undetectable level. People who maintain an undetectable viral load for at least six months and who continue HIV treatment cannot transmit HIV through sex. This is known as Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, or U = U. “Made Equal” encourages New Yorkers to start and continue treatment if they have HIV and emphasizes that treatment is available regardless of their insurance or immigration status.

“This new U = U campaign underscores the fact that people living with HIV have more choices than ever before,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “With a sexual health plan that includes taking HIV medication, regular medical care, and using condoms, New Yorkers with HIV can live long, fulfilling, and healthy lives with the options they have now.”

“Made Equal” is designed to reduce HIV-related stigma, celebrate healthy sexuality and sexual pleasure, and redefine what it means to live with HIV. The campaign makes clear that HIV treatment joins pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a safe and effective daily pill that greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), an emergency medication for people who are HIV-negative and have been exposed to HIV, and condoms as highly effective HIV prevention strategies.

a man and woman smile at one another while embracing

The Health Department chose Pride month to release “Made Equal” because of the campaign’s celebratory tone and message of empowerment. This month, New York City is hosting WorldPride NYC | Stonewall 50, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQIA+ liberation. Starting today, “Made Equal” will appear in subway cars, subway stations, buses, and bus shelters across the city, as well as on digital media.

“The new ‘Made Equal’ campaign puts U = U into a context of intimacy and love,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control. “People living with HIV are lovable, touchable, and should feel confident that, with effective treatment, they can live free of the concern of transmitting the virus.”

“‘Made Equal’ is a shining example of the Health Department’s overall efforts to end the epidemic,” said Dr. Oni Blackstock, Assistant Commissioner for the Health Department’s Bureau of HIV. “It’s based in science; it’s responsive to the needs of the community, and designed to resonate with New Yorkers from all walks of life; and it takes a sex-positive, provocative approach to empowering New Yorkers to take control of their sexual health and sexuality. It’s our hope that ‘Made Equal’ will help break down HIV-related stigma, and redefine what it means to be living with HIV in 2019.”

In August 2016, New York City became the first jurisdiction in the United States to join the U = U movement. In September 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health (PDF) agreed that people who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners. The Health Department has since released additional resources promoting U = U, including a Dear Colleague Letter (PDF), information for providers, an FAQ handout (PDF), and the health bulletin, Making HIV Undetectable (PDF).

“The Health Department’s ‘Made Equal’ campaign will highlight the importance of getting tested and treated for HIV, which can reduce the virus to an undetectable level and eliminate the possibility of it being transmitted through sexual activity,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee.

New York City has achieved historic success in its efforts to end the epidemic: the number of new HIV diagnoses has dropped by 64% since HIV case reporting began, from over 5,900 new diagnoses reported in 2001 to 2,157 in 2017. “Made Equal” arrives as more New Yorkers are receiving care and achieving viral suppression. In 2017, 80% of people were linked to care within 30 days of their HIV diagnosis, compared to 65% in 2013. Among people receiving HIV medical care in New York City in 2017, 85% were virally suppressed, compared to 79% in 2013.

The Health Department has several programs to help engage people with HIV in care and treatment, and re-engage those who have fallen out of care, including the Positive Life Workshop, NYC Ryan White Care Coordination Program, The Undetectables, and partner services. For assistance finding HIV care, New Yorkers can text “CARE” to 877877, or visit the NYC Health Map, an online directory of HIV service providers. The Health Department’s eight Sexual Health Clinics provide walk-in services to anyone 12 years or older, regardless of ability to pay, insurance coverage, or immigration status. No parental consent is necessary. In addition to HIV testing, PrEP and PEP, and same-day HIV treatment initiation, the Sexual Health Clinics offer eligible patients low- to no-cost STI testing and treatment; human papilloma virus (HPV), meningococcal, and hepatitis A and B vaccines; behavioral health services; emergency contraception; and harm reduction services, including naloxone kits and syringe dispensing.

“Made Equal” is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC Ending the Epidemic Plan, which includes a $23 million investment to increase access to HIV prevention services, including PrEP and PEP; promote innovative, optimal treatment for all New Yorkers with HIV; enhance methods for tracing HIV transmission; and improve access to comprehensive, affirming sexual health care for all New Yorkers through targeted outreach to priority populations and enhancements to the City’s Sexual Health Clinics. Underlying these efforts is a commitment to racial equity and social justice to reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Gallahue /Danielle De Souza, (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov