A healthy New York is a strong New York. From affirming the basic human rights of transgender New Yorkers to working towards ending the AIDS epidemic, our health achievements are as diverse as the City itself.
In December 2014, we passed legislation to eliminate an antiquated requirement that made surgery a precondition for transgender New Yorkers to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. Now, New Yorkers are able to amend their birth certificates by visiting an expansive pool of medical and mental health professionals who can attest to an individual’s gender, increasing access for transgender people, a group that has historically been discriminated against and disenfranchised.
In the first year of our term, we passed a package of legislation to regulate the sale of animals in pet shops. Taken together, these laws strengthen the City’s shelter system, empower consumers, decrease the number of unwanted litters, increase the number of lost animals returned to their owners, and make us part of the nationwide effort to keep bad actors out of the pet supply chain.
We provided a total of $1 million in the current budget to improve access to health care, address cultural and language barriers, and target resources and interventions for underserved populations. The Access Health NYC Initiative provides funding to 17 culturally and linguistically competent community-based organizations in all 5 boroughs to do outreach and public education about options for health care access and coverage.
In our second year we allocated $975,000 for Hepatitis B and C outreach, screening, and detection efforts. We also passed legislation requiring an annual report on Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C to help better target our efforts in the future and ensured the Health Department’s budget included 11 new positions to support the expansion of outreach, evaluation, surveillance, and reporting related to viral hepatitis, a silent killer.
To help end the AIDS epidemic in New York, we have committed $6.6 million to community-based prevention and supportive services. We also successfully negotiated with the Administration to include an additional $1.1 million to expand prevention services.
Last summer, we were confronted with an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, a pneumonia-like illness, in the South Bronx. We responded with legislation requiring cooling towers, which were breeding grounds for the bacteria that caused the outbreak, to be registered, inspected, and tested regularly, with the goal of preventing future outbreaks and protecting New Yorkers.
The Council passed two resolutions to raise awareness about the human papillomavirus (HPV)—one declaring January Cervical Health Awareness Month in New York City and another calling on the state to clarify that young people under the age of 18 can consent to an HPV vaccine, which the New York State Department of Health has recently moved to do through rulemaking. The Speaker’s open discussion of her HPV diagnosis has helped destigmatize this very common cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection and brought attention to prevention and screening.