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MEDIA ADVISORY/10.27 Press Conference: HIV/AIDS Leaders Urge True Rescinding of Cuomo Ebola Policy

October 26, 2014

WHAT: Press Conference Calling for True Rescinding of Cuomo Mandatory Ebola Quarantine to Align Policy with Science-Based Public Health Recs

WHEN: Noon (EST), Monday, October 27, 2014

WHERE: In Front of Bellevue Hospital Center, 462 First Avenue (between 27th & 28thSts.), New York City

U.S. & Global Leaders of the HIV/AIDS Response Hold Press Conference to Call on Governor Cuomo to Rescind Policy of Mandatory Home Quarantine for Persons Who Have Been In Proximity to Persons with Ebola Virus Disease

Monday, October 27, at noon (EST), leaders of the AIDS community and other public health experts will hold a press conference in front of Bellevue Hospital Center, 462 First Avenue, Manhattan. We will call on NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to rescind the recently announced policy of mandatory quarantine of persons who have been in close proximity to people with Ebola virus disease (EVD).

On Friday, October 24th, Gov. Cuomo joined New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to announce a new policy at Port Authority-operated airports, including John F. Kennedy and Newark International Airports-to question each person who has traveled in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and to order immediate mandatory 21-day quarantine of any person who acknowledges having been in proximity to persons with EVD. At least one person is already confined: a nurse who volunteered with Médicins Sans Frontières to care for EVD patients in West Africa is being held involuntarily at a New Jersey hospital under mandatory quarantine-despite a complete absence of any clinical indicator of EVD.

Governor Cuomo's subsequent, slight revision to Friday's announced policy, made Sunday evening under mounting pressure from the White House, public-health experts, and the AIDS community, was characterized by the Governor's Office as a loosening-to "confinement" at home-but in fact, it remains a mandatory, 21-day quarantine, just at home, not in the hospital. As such, the revised policy still goes against evidence-based, CDC-recommended public health practices grounded in science, and it continues to contribute to ongoing misunderstanding of how the Ebola virus is transmitted and spread as well as to growing stigma and public panic.

Leaders in the HIV/AIDS response have circulated a letter to the Governor calling for rescission of the policy. Since Saturday, the group has collected over 100 signatures, including notable public health leaders such as Chris Beyrer, President at The International AIDS Society; Paul D. Cleary, Dean at Yale School of Public Health; Wafaa El-Sadr, Director of International Center for AIDS Programs; and Paul Farmer, Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University and Co-Founder of Partners in Health. In addition, the letter has received support from a diverse array of groups including amfAR, BROADWAY CARES/EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS, Empire State Pride Agenda, and numerous AIDS service and LGBT organizations.

At the 10/27 press conference, the group will address concerns that the new policy has no basis in current evidence on effective disease control. They will also raise the concern that these policies will inhibit medical volunteerism, which is critical to the fight against Ebola in West Africa. They will raise concerns that the policy conveys dangerously incorrect information by implying that Ebola can be easily transmitted by persons who are asymptomatic-a misunderstanding that will inevitably lead to stigma and discrimination. These leaders will also challenge the policy as unenforceable and counter-productive as a public health measure.

Long-time AIDS activist Peter Staley said, "It is unfortunate that the Governor has made such a hasty decision without consulting with leading public health experts. Having seen the stigma that has arisen around HIV /AIDS, I fear that stigma and fear are now going to become significant barriers to addressing Ebola."

"We need sound science and evidence-based public health policy to address the Ebola crisis. In the United States we need public health policy free of fear, stigma, and discrimination. We must support the African nations heavily impacted by Ebola and the health-care professionals who risk their lives to care for those nations most affected," stated Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS .

Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works, said, "If the logic of this new policy were sound, then we would be quarantining all of the New York City-based people, including first responders, nurses, and doctors, who are working directly with Dr. Craig Spencer, the Ebola patient who has been hospitalized since Thursday. Instead, we are imposing this policy only on people coming from Africa, clearly a response to hysteria generated by the media rather than what is in New Yorkers' best interests."


Mika De Roo,
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Cell: 347-585-6051


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