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ACR Health Wants to Keep Momentum With PrEP to Reduce HIV Cases

Scott Willis

ACR Health announced their ability to provide PrEP at their Medical Clinic on Monday, as the City of Syracuse declared in a proclamation that this week is PrEP Awareness Week. PrEP is a HIV-prevention medication.

According to the Executive Director of ACR Health Will Murtaugh, it significantly lowers the infection rate. But he says that they want to keep up that momentum.

"We still have some work to do to try to go from 2,400 cases now down to 750. It's a lot of work and it's state-wide. And, as you know, upstate is more rural, and what we found is that there's limited access [to PrEP in upstate], so having another clinic available to do this is going to be much more helpful."

Seth Thompson is an ACR client and a PrEP user. He says that when he moved to Syracuse, finding a medical organization that could provide PrEP was important to his overall wellbeing.

"I decided that taking PrEP would be the best option for me because it really does give me peace of mind that I'm doing everything that I can to protect myself, even when other people aren't doing what they need to do to protect me."

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
PrEP user Seth Thompson explains how getting PrEP from ACR Health will positively impact him.

PrEP has been gaining traction in New York State over the last few years with 2018 having a 32 percent increase in New York PrEP users. Murtaugh attributes the 11 percent decrease in new HIV diagnosis’s to both PrEP and medications for those who are HIV positive. ACR’s Director of Prevention and Community Initiatives John Arcaro says that ACR health is trying to spread awareness of this drug to vulnerable populations in Syracuse.

"So this week for PrEP Awareness Week we're engaging in some collaborative outreaches with other agencies-- Blaca, faces, Upstate. We're trying to get out there and spread the word and increase utilization of PrEP."

This new access to PrEP and the declaration of PrEP awareness week are part of Governor Cuomo’s larger Ending the Epidemic plan which aims to end the AIDS epidemic by the end of 2020.