Published December, 2018

Testimony Before the New York City Council’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights and Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction, Catherine Hanssens, The Center for HIV Law and Policy (2018)


In December 2018, two committees of the New York City Council (the Committee on Civil and Human Rights and the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction) convened a public hearing on the negative mental health consequences of discrimination and bias incidents. In our testimony to the committees, CHLP focused on the negative impact of bias in the health care profession. “Experiences that teach and reinforce the self-perception that one is “less-than” is strong fertilizer for feelings of self-loathing. For people living with HIV, that also translates into a disinclination to get into care or to stay in care after diagnosis … the anticipation of discrimination is enough to cause stress and the understandable decision to avoid yet another source of judgment and trauma.” We concluded our testimony with four examples of actions that could make inroads into this unaddressed cause of racial disparities in HIV diagnoses and care, e.g., increasing the role, and funding, of peer navigators and counselors to support patient engagement and monitor the cultural capacity of primary and ER care providers.