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Education, Awareness Key to Eliminating HIV/AIDS in CNY

purple logo with hands reaching, holding a sign saying ACT AWARE, HIV

Monday was World Aids Day, a nation-wide effort to re-ignite awareness of a dangerous disease that's claimed 35 million lives since 1983. 
Health experts here in Central New York are still working with patients to fight the pandemic. According to Doctor Elizabeth Reddy, Medical Director for the Designated Aids Center Clinicat Upstate University Hospital, “the general public has this idea that HIV is a thing of the past, or perhaps it’s just something that’s going on abroad and it’s not in my community.”
Reddy was one of the speakers at an Educational Luncheon held by the CNY HIV Care Network. Panelists generally agreed that outreach and prevention efforts need to be regrouped and renewed:

Reddy says that could be attributed to the higher rate of new HIV infections among young gay men coming in to Upstate’s clinic. Among the newer patients at the clinic, as many as 60 percent are gay men.  But she cautions that it’s very difficult to pigeonhole the specific demographics of the population who are at risk, so awareness campaigns should be cognizant of that.

woman speaking, gesturing with her hands
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Doctor Liz Reddy at an educational luncheon discussing HIV/AIDs on World Aids Day

Another expert who spoke at yesterday’s luncheon is Doctor Richard Torres.  The Chief Medical Officer at Optimus Healthcare and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale says advances in treatment can be a double-edged sword for young people:

“I think another important factor is that, since the treatment of HIV has improved so much over the last 30 years, there’s a myth that people can acquire the infection and still be treated and live a healthy life. It’s still not a curable disease.  As such, young people are taking risks that they shouldn’t be taking, thinking that down the line they can just get on medication. That’s really not a good belief to have.  So educating everyone about safe practices and preventing acquisition of the virus is very important.”
Numerous other organizations attended the luncheon Monday with a common purpose: to help spread accurate and useful information to help people protect themselves against infection. For more information about World Aids Day, visit


Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at
Hannah vividly remembers pulling up in the driveway with her mom as a child and sitting in the car as it idled with the radio on, listening to Ira Glass finish his thought on This American Life. When he reached a transition, it was a wild race out of the car and into the house to flip on the story again and keep listening. Hannah’s love of radio reporting has stuck with her ever since.