December is HIV Awareness Month and as 2020 approaches, it is time to reflect on the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic in New York State. In 2014, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health launched the “End the Epidemic 2020” campaign to end the infection of one person by another in New York State by the end of 2020.
The campaign was launched because new advances in HIV testing, treatment and preventive medications make ending the epidemic possible. HIV testing is easy to obtain from your practitioner or clinic through expedited consent policies. Testing can often be done on site with results in minutes and you can know your result and discuss it at the same visit.
The Tompkins County Health Department offers free, anonymous HIV testing on Tuesday & Thursday by appointment. Walk-ins are welcomed on Tuesday morning from 9 – 11:30 am. Additionally, confidential, free or low-cost STI testing, treatment, and education can easily be accessed at various locations throughout the county, including Planned Parenthood, Southern Tier AIDS Program, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and local area private providers. (For a complete list of testing sites and contact information, please visit the department's website at: http://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/std or call, (607) 276-6604 for more information.
Medications to treat HIV changed it from a “death sentence,” to a treatable infection; which converts it to a chronic disease. The medications are simpler to take and much better tolerated, making it possible to suppress the infection to such a low level that individuals can remain healthy and prevent further transmission. For those who are at high risk for HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), is a medication that individuals can take daily to lower their chances of getting infected. Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods. To find out more information about risk factors, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html. Additionally, if you have general questions about PrEP and payment options, contact your practitioner or the Planned Parenthood PrEP Coordinator at: 607-273-1526 ext. 2310.
End the Epidemic 2020 calls for the HIV transmission rate to be virtually zero by the end of 2020. The Health Department reminds everyone to:
• Talk to your partner about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV, before you have sex.
• Test for STIs if you are sexually active.
• Treat right away if you test positive for an STI.
• Use PrEP and condoms (male or female) if you have any risk.
“Ending the HIV epidemic is within our grasp. We have the tools; we have the medications - we all need to take care of ourselves and do what is needed to protect our health and that of others. Take action and talk to your loved ones and friends,” states Dr. William Klepack, Medical Director of Tompkins County Health Department.
For further information on testing or for information on accessing treatment services please contact
Tompkins County Health Department at 607-274-6604.
To find out more information about Ending the Epidemic go to: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/ending_the_epidemic/. For more information about risk factors, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html
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