ACR Health: Governor Cuomo's crackdown on HIV is welcome news

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - On Sunday, Governor Cuomo announced he is taking dead aim at HIV.  He wants to reduce the number of new infections down to 750 per year in New York State by the year 2020.  The current average is about 3,00 per year throughout the state.
On Monday, News Channel 2 spoke with officials at ACR Health in Utica.  ACR Health used to stand for AIDS Community Resources, but was re-branded last year as 
"Access Care and Resources for Health.  But no matter what it's been called, the organization has been the leader here in the Utica area for HIV prevention.
ACR Health Mohawk Valley Regional Supervisor Mamie Smith says the Governor's words on Sunday hit home with everyone at ACR Health in Utica, "This is overwhelming.  This is a fight that we've been fighting for 30 years and we know that prevention is key."
The Governor has pledged more money to identify those New Yorkers who have HIV and don't know it, meaning they may be spreading it to others unknowingly.  More money is also pledged to treat those who have been diagnosed.
Mamie Smith says HIV is a disease of opportunity, "It does not care if you're black or white, your socio-economic status, it's a disease of opportunity, and HIV is one of the only incurable diseases that is preventable.  One in six people that are HIV positive, don't know that they have the disease."
Governor Cuomo made the announcement at New York City's Gay Pride Parade Sunday, but Michael Johnson wants people to know that although the highest transmission rate is between gay men, everyone who may put themselves at risk should be tested.  He says people involved in sharing needles for intravenous drug use and even some who get tattoos have also been know to test positive at a high rate, "A lot of people are getting tattoos outside of those controlled environments, outside the tattoo parlors, they're having tattoo parties."
The Governor says he is also working with three of the largest pharmaceutical companies that market HIV drugs to reduce their costs so that more people can afford the treatment.
Cuomo did not release any information as to how much the HIV reduction plan would cost but did say it is estimated to save the state abut $300 million dollars each year by 2020 because he says the state will not have to pay as much to treat those with the disease.
ACR Health offers free HIV testing and you can get the results in just ten minutes.

ACR Health is located at 401 Columbia St. in Utica. Their phone number is (315) 793-0661. 

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