New York Governor Hochul Marks World AIDS Day by Signing the LGBTQ+ and HIV Long Term Care Bill of Rights

[November 30, 2023, New York] SAGE, the world’s largest organization for LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV, commends New York Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the New York State’s LGBTQ+ and HIV Long-Term Care Bill of Rights [S1783A/A372A] into law during the New York State Department of Health’s 25th Annual World AIDS Day Event. Communities around the world mark December 1 as World AIDS Day by uniting around the shared commitment that everyone deserves equitable access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care. Today, New York takes steps to ensure that some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers can receive care free from stigma and discrimination.  

This important new law, sponsored by Assembly Member Harry B. Bronson [D] and Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal [D], amends New York’s public health law to protect the rights and address the needs of LGBTQ+ elders and New Yorkers living with HIV in long-term care facilities. Older New Yorkers living with HIV face disparities such as social isolation and higher poverty rates compared to people not living with HIV. Additionally, they encounter significant barriers when accessing aging services and support. The number of older New Yorkers with HIV is increasing, with a projected 73% of them being over 50 by 2030. 

While HIV is not solely an LGBTQ+ issue, it is deeply intertwined in the community. This new legislation also includes much needed protections for LGBTQ+ elders, a population that shares concerns around being able to access senior housing and care facilities, or being forced back into the closet to receive essential care as they age. Data shows that over 60% of LGBTQ+ adults over 45 worry about neglect, abuse, harassment, and limited LGBTQ+-specific services in long-term care facilities.  

To address these issues, this legislation would mandate training for all staff interacting with residents, ensuring culturally competent care for LGBTQ+ elders and people living with HIV. It would establish clear guidelines that prohibit discriminatory actions in long-term care facilities, such as denial of admission or infringement on residents’ right to associate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV diagnosis. 

“The New York State LGBTQ+ and HIV Long Term Care Bill of Rights will help combat the stigma that unjustly impacts New Yorkers living with HIV and empower LGBTQ+ elders to be open about their identities without fear of discrimination in long-term care settings. LGBTQ+ elders and those living with HIV have waited far too long for these safeguards that enable them to age with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Darcy Connors, Executive Director of SAGEServes, the direct services division of SAGE. “Thank you Assemblymember Bronson and Senator Hoylman-Sigal, for championing this landmark legislation through the state legislature, and Governor Kathy Hochul for signing it into law in recognition of World AIDS Day.” 

This legislation is a needed step forward to support the growing community of New Yorkers aging with HIV. It also recognizes the imminent crisis facing New York State, where the needs of people aging with HIV are outpacing available services. 

“There is a veritable ‘silver tsunami’ of complex issues as LGBTQ people with HIV are living longer, meaning that long-term care facilities with LGBTQ residents need to adjust to this welcome reality. It’s appropriate, then, that Governor Hochul chose the eve of World AIDS Day to sign our LGBTQ Long-term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights into law, which will help ensure that older LGBTQ New Yorkers in these facilities will be protected from discrimination,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal. “I’m grateful to the Governor, along with Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins for her stalwart support of the LGBTQ community, and Assembly Member Bronson. Advocates played a crucial role in getting our bill across the finish line, including SAGE, the New Pride Agenda, and EQNY.” 

“Thank you, Governor Hochul for recognizing that members of the LGBTQ+ community should not be denied admission to a long-term care facility, be denied transfer options, or be discharged or evicted based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status,” said Assembly Member Harry B. Bronson. “Instead, they should be treated with the humanity, dignity, and respect they deserve. The LGBTQ+ and HIV Long-Term Care Bill of Rights Act will help to prevent discrimination by long-term care facilities. This new law will help our LGBTQ+ older adults be their authentic self without fear of discrimination while they age. I am proud of the work Senator Hoylman-Sigal and I have done to ensure protections for LGBTQ+ individuals and those who are living with HIV or AIDS who require long-term care.”   

“As we commemorate World AIDS Day, it is important to remember that HIV/AIDS still affects over 100,000 New Yorkers, and this bill goes a long way in recognizing the humanity and dignity of those living with HIV or AIDS,” Assembly Member Bronson said. 

With a dedicated focus on promoting inclusive HIV care and support systems, SAGE has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts, working collaboratively with policymakers, healthcare providers, and community organizations to ensure equitable access to essential services for people aging with HIV.  

Through its comprehensive programs, SAGE continues to offer tailored resources, support, and educational initiatives specifically designed to meet the evolving needs of people aging with HIV. By providing guidance, fostering awareness, and advocating for policies that prioritize inclusivity and non-discrimination, SAGE remains steadfast in its mission to empower and uplift the HIV community.  

As we commemorate World AIDS Day and celebrate the landmark legislation signed by Governor Hochul, SAGE reaffirms its commitment to advancing the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ elders and people aging with HIV, striving for a future where everyone receives compassionate and stigma-free care as they age.