Teen SENSE Project Coordinator Pepis Rodriguez met with the New York State Interagency Task Force on HIV/AIDS (IATF) at their biannual meeting in Albany on November 15. Rodriguez advocated for comprehensive, medically accurate, and queer-affirming sexual health care and sexual health literacy programming, from culturally competent staff, for all youth under state care, such as those in juvenile detention or congregate care. IATF is composed of twenty-three state agencies, such as the Office of Children and Family Services, dedicated to the prevention of HIV and the care of people living with HIV (PLHW), such as the Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services.
IATF members heard about the pressing need to ensure all of New York's young people receive the care and services they need to thrive and develop healthy sexual attitudes and behaviors, particularly when the State has taken on the affirmative duty to provide for their health and safety. They also received guidance regarding how their agencies can aid these efforts, such as by providing mental health care suited to address the needs of LGBTQ youth and youth living with HIV, or ensuring state data collection includes disaggregated data for LGBTQ youth, particularly those of color.