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"Paint the Town Red Week" Kicks Off Annual HIV and STD Awareness Campaign

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John Smith
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WAER News

The novel coronavirus might be dominating the news, but a local community organization that provides education and support to stop the spread of HIV and STDs kicked off its annual awareness campaign Monday in Syracuse’s Clinton Square.  ACR Health’s “Paint the Town Red Week” will have buildings such as City Hall and the National Grid Building lit up in red for the cause.  Executive Director Wil Murtaugh says their efforts are also part of the Governor’s goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020.

"The three main prongs of this plan are to:  Increase testing; expand access to PrEP, the daily pill that prevents HIV negative people from contracting the virus; and, working with HIV positive individuals to keep them healthy and get their viral load to be undetectable.  We know when you're undetectable, you cannot transmit the virus."

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Credit provided photo / ACR Health
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ACR Health
The red stripe painted on Salina St. downtown.

Murtaugh says the use of PrEP daily for individuals with HIV can bring them to undetectable levels, but the medication is not a cure.

"We are treating lot of people now with Hepatitis C, and we can cure them, which is powerful.  One day I want to say, when it comes to HIV, 'You're HIV positive?  Let me get you the medicine to cure you,' which would be phenomenal.  But we don't have that."

ACR  Health will be re-opening its Syracuse location (627 W. Genesee St) Tuesday for in-person appointments for HIV and STD testing.  The organization invites the public to join them for the Virtual 28th Annual Walk and Run via Zoom this Sunday, June 7th.  More details are at ACR Health.org.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.