HIV

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Today is World AIDS Day. The director of the Designated AIDS Center at Upstate is optimistic that the state will reach its goal of dramatically reducing the number of new HIV infections across the state.  

In October, New York state announced a target of reducing the number of new HIV infections to 750 per year. Right now there are 3,000 new diagnoses reported every year in New York State.

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ACR Health has expanded its needle exchange program in Utica.  

In the Syracuse area, the organization’s three-year-old needle exchange program has reached almost 1,000 injection drug users. ACR health prevention director Erin Bortel says one of the reason it’s so successful is that it goes to where the injection users are.

"We’re able to infiltrate the community in a little bit more practical way, than expecting people who continually experience stigma and discrimination from having to come to us. So our mobility is our huge asset in our ability to reach individuals.”

ACR Health Prevention Services in Syracuse is looking for ways to reduce HIV and hepatitis C infection rates in New York state prisons.

According to federal statistics, inmates have the highest rate of HIV in New York, compared to any other state, and many of those inmates are  co-infected with hepatitis C. To fight that, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS has a campaign that emphasizes public awareness, education and access to testing and treatment.  

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a plan he hopes will end the AIDS epidemic in New York state by the year 2020, but much of what’s involved in the three-point program is already being done.

The governor's program is called “Bending the Curve," and concentrates on three things: identifying people who test HIV positive; linking those people to healthcare and connecting them to anti-HIV therapy to prevent further transmission; and stopping high-risk behavior among others to keep them HIV negative.

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The sharp reduction in diabetic complications is encouraging news for more than 21 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disease. Federal researchers recently showed about 2/3 fewer heart attacks, 50 percent fewer strokes and amputations, and 30 percent fewer incidents of kidney failure among people with diabetes over the past two decades.

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ACR Health in Syracuse is hoping a successful nutrition program can be expanded to serve others in the community, but right now its nutritional education program currently only has funding to serve clients with HIV/AIDS.

Brian Cowden, 50, has been living with HIV since he was 19. On medication to control the disease, Cowden says he never felt good, complaining of gastrointestinal problems, migraines, sleep issues. But after joining ACR Health’s nutritional program, that all went away.

The agency that has helped victims of HIV/AIDS for the past 30 years in central New York will soon be taking on a new responsibility. AIDS Community Resources will be a foot soldier in a revamped Medicaid system in New York state.

In the next month or so, ARC will begin offering case management services for Medicaid eligible individuals who don't necessarily have AIDS, but who have any chronic health issue.

It'll mean a name change for AIDS Community Resources, but more importantly, Executive Director Michael Crinnen says it will allow the agency do what it does best -- coordinate care for sufferers of a chronic disease, and hopefully keeping them out of the emergency room.

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The reported cure of a baby girl born with HIV in Mississippi has sparked excitement in the medical community. Doctors say the apparent disappearance of her infection is due to very early treatment of the infant with standard drug therapies. They say the case is a proof of concept that HIV infection could potentially be curable in infants.

Half the people who contract HIV in the United States are African-American, according to statistics released last year. Advocates hope  National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is today, leads to more education about the disease in the black community.  Locally, there will be a push to do just that in Syracuse this weekend.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

World AIDS Day was remembered in Syracuse this morning during a service of remembrance. Participants say they are worried that the disease, which has been around for over 30 years now, has become forgotten.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

All of New York state is now covered by a needle exchange program sponsored by the state health department.

Syracuse was one of the last communities to join the  program, and so far, it's working well.

The program's big silver van has a small sign that says, “Safety First: Syringe Exchange Program.” This is where IV drug users and others can exchange their dirty needles for  clean ones.