In 2014 Governor Cuomo introduced the ‘Ending Epidemic’ Initiative which was designed to significantly lower the amount of HIV infections in the state by 2020. The efforts aim to bend the curve, meaning that the annual number of new infections are less than the amount of people that die from the virus.
This year, on World AIDS Day Governor Cuomo announced that the estimated new hiv infections continue to fall to the lowest levels in the state’s history. Their successful efforts can also be seen within our community.
“The program has worked and here in Utica we’ve seen a big decrease in numbers as well. Utica, for ACR Health, one of our biggest concentrations of HIV positive clients at ACR Health is in Utica. Which is surprising because we also cover Syracuse and some other major areas. But in Utica, we have probably the largest number of HIV positive clients. And we’ve seen a pretty big decrease in the number of new positives but we’ve also seen a huge increase in people who are being adherent to their medications, who are getting healthy, who are becoming undetectable with the virus.” – Steve Wood, Director of Insurance Programs, ACR Health
If you’re undetectable then you can’t transmit the virus. Much of the success from the ‘Ending Epidemic’ Initiative can be attributed to a medication called PrEP. PrEP is designed for people who engage in risky behaviors, and when taken daily, it prevents contracting HIV. Governor Cuomo has helped make prep free for everyone.
“Now you can get PrEP for free. And the state has a program called PrEP-app that will pay for your doctor’s visits associated with prep and then the manufacturer of the drug will give you a card that will pay the entire cost of the medication or your entire copay. So there’s no reason to not take it if you’re engaging in those risky behaviors and you want to stay negative. So, that’s a great thing and think that has greatly increased the amount of people who are not becoming positive.” – Steve Wood, Director of Insurance Programs, ACR Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PrEP can be up to 99% effective when taken daily. Consult your doctor to see if PrEP is right for you.