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NY Grants Support Legal Services for People Living with HIV

Legal services help New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS avoid homelessness. Photo credit Bex Wade/
Legal services help New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS avoid homelessness. Photo credit Bex Wade/
August 24, 2015

NEW YORK – New York state is helping families and individuals living with HIV and AIDS get access to legal services.

Beyond the cost of medical care, people living with HIV face a long list of legal concerns.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that $2.5 million would be distributed among 11 organizations across the state to make sure people get the help they need.

Barbara Graves-Poller, director of the HIV/AIDS Representation Project at the Legal Aid Society, says because so many people with HIV-related illness live in poverty, legal services are vital.

"It's really essential that they receive support in areas such as housing, access to public benefits, and these other essentials of life that allow them to maintain their health and well being," she stresses.

According to data from the New York City Department of Health, 93 percent of people who died of HIV-related illness in 2013 lived in poor neighborhoods.

A veteran living with AIDS recently asked Legal Aid for help securing housing and unemployment benefits. Threatened with homelessness and denying himself food to save money, Graves-Poller says the man’s case illustrates how important assistance in getting benefits can be.

"Those have a direct relationship with his ability to be able to feed himself, care for himself appropriately and make sure that his health doesn't continue to deteriorate," she points out.

The legal-assistance grants are part of the effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state by the end of 2020.

Andrea Sears/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NY