ALBANY, N.Y. (News10)-Today is World AIDS Day. It was founded in 1988 and takes place every December 1st as part of the worldwide fight against HIV and as a way of remembering those lost to AIDS. This year’s theme focuses on eliminating disparity and inequity which are both considered significant barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and access to care, especially when it comes to those who are marginalized and communities of color.

“We are still receiving treatment later. We are being diagnosed later. We are being screened later. We are still experiencing folks coming in, not even HIV positive, but coming in with AIDS,” said Tandra LaGrone, CEO of In Our Own Voices, a nonprofit supporting the wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color. News10’s Anya Tucker spoke with LaGrone outside the New York State Capitol along with a determined group of community members, HIV positive New Yorkers, elected officials, and AIDS housing service providers sounding the call about the need for with housing and medical assistance.

“Yes, there’s no cure for it but we have incredible treatments now,” said Perry Junjulas, Executive Director of the Albany Damien Center. Junjulas was diagnosed with AIDS in the 1990’s. “Myself, I’m on medicines,” he said. “My virus is so low that I cannot pass it on to anyone else. So, that was really a game changer when that science came in.”

But treatment is not always readily available to everyone who needs it says Junjulas. His organization is a resource for housing, healthcare and support for individuals and families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. He says persistent stigma makes the situation worse.

“People are just scared. And I had a case just recently where someone found out that someone was positive. The family said, ‘We don’t want you anymore.’. And it’s just heartbreaking.”

Those gathered at the Capitol called on Governor Kathy Hochul, and lawmakers to prioritize funding for housing for people living with HIV across New York.