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Alma R. Candelas

Mother’s Day Celebration 2023
Public Service Award

Director, Division of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis C Prevention
New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute (Retired)

Alma R. Candelas served as Director of the Division of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis C Prevention at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. Her responsibilities included supervising and overseeing the Bureau of Community-Based Services, the Bureau of Special Populations, and the Bureau of HIV/STD Field Services. In addition, Ms. Candelas directly supervised the NYS HIV Prevention Planning Unit, the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, and the New York State Condom Program.

Her career at the AIDS Institute started in 1990 as the Director of the Substance Use Services Section. Her responsibilities in the Institute were expanded in 1992 when she became the Director of Substance Abuse and Women’s Services.

Two years later, she was appointed the first Director of the Bureau of Special Populations. Under her guidance, many key initiatives of national stature were conceived and developed. These included the implementation of the Obstetrical Initiative, which later evolved into Early Identification and Intervention Services; the co-location of HIV counseling and testing—and later of HIV primary care—in substance use treatment settings; New York State’s syringe exchange and harm reduction programs; the public/private collaboration with the United Way of New York City, which is known as the Women’s Supportive Services Initiative; the creation of a unit specific to the HIV prevention needs of LGBTQ+ populations; the Expanded Syringe Access Program; and the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program.

Before her tenure at the AIDS Institute, Ms. Candelas worked at PROMESA, a multi-service substance use treatment program, where she served in various roles, including Coordinator of Social Services, Administrator, and Clinical Director, over the course of 17 years.

Ms. Candelas has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Puerto Rico and worked in several public health capacities within the departments of health and education in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico before coming to New York. She also worked on developing the Harm Reduction Medicaid Redesign proposal after her retirement.

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