The Health Law Clinic within the Justice Center at Albany Law School is part of a trio of organizations that has received nearly $1 million from the New York State Department of Health to provide legal services for individuals and families grappling with HIV/AIDS and the treatments needed to combat the disease.
Led by the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York and in co-operation with the Albany Damien Center, the Health Law Clinic will act as a subcontractor doing advocacy work thanks, in part, to the $196,113 annually awarded for five years starting in January.
The grant – officially titled, “Legal Services for Individuals and Families to Support Continuity in HIV Care” – is a renewal of previous funding that has supported the collaboration between the organizations for decades.
“We are very pleased that the Department of Health has recognized our expertise in and dedication to meeting the civil legal needs of those living with HIV and AIDS,” said Victoria Esposito, Advocacy Director for the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York and supervisor of the HIV/AIDS Law Consortium (HALC) program. “We look forward to our continued work with our partners and are glad to be able to serve our clients sensitively and holistically.”
“We are grateful for this continued support from the Department of Health. It is clear that the legal services we provide continue to be needed and result in decreased stress, better living conditions, and improved health outcomes for our clients,” said Professor Joe Connors who is the Director of the Clinic.
Albany Law’s Health Law Clinic was established in 1992 in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. The clinic was launched from lessons learned by faculty and staff from the Law School's former AIDS Law Clinic which was one of the nation’s first clinical education programs to address the unmet legal needs of individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS.
“The coordinated legal and support services provided through this grant will help keep children safe by ensuring adequate advance planning, direct advocacy, and psycho-social support for families impacted by HIV,” Connors said.
Beyond this work, the clinic also assists clients and families dealing with cancer and other chronic medical conditions. It also provides training on legal rights for clients, advocates, health care staff, physicians, and law and medical students.
The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York is a law firm that provides free civil legal aid to low-income upstate New Yorkers. With a 106 staff in five offices in the region the organization serves 16 counties and the St. Regis Indian Reservation.
The Albany Damien Center opened in 1988 and was incorporated in 1990 as the first AIDS drop-in center in the United States. It serves as a free resource center designed to improve health, reduce stress, and increase the quality of life in a supportive atmosphere for individuals and families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
“The Albany Damien Center has long recognized the critical impact psycho-social support has on the health of families impacted by HIV and AIDS. We are thrilled to partner with Legal Aid and Albany Law School in providing assistance through our Behavioral Health team for each family who needs us,” said Albany Damien Center Executive Director Perry Junjulas.