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World AIDS Day remembered, activists worry disease is often forgotten

Ellen Abbott

World AIDS Day was remembered in Syracuse this morning during a service of remembrance. Participants say they are worried that the disease, which has been around for over 30 years now, has become forgotten.

The service was filled by songs, poems, reflections, and punctuated by the sound of a gong every two minutes to remind central New Yorkers that every two minutes, ten people worldwide become infected with HIV.

Dan McMaster of Syracuse says people don't remember that fact, now that the infection is treatable.

"It's become commonplace. The difference is that it's still a killer," said McMaster. "It's not like having a cold -- you take a pill and you get better. Because you don't get better.  And if you stop taking the drug, you can go right back downhill again, and it'll kill you."

That concerns Will Murtaugh who works at Aids Community Resource, especially when it comes to the youth.

"They are not getting the full message of the disease. The ravage that it can cause, the pain that it can cause.  They don't feel the importance of this disease, the learning of this disease," Murtaugh said.

There was a spike in the number of youth diagnosed with HIV in Onondaga County two years ago, which is something that Jackie Coe of Baldwinsville, says shows it's an issue that touches everyone in Central New York.

"Yes, we are the number one state for aids an HIV.  We have been since the beginning.  And it's very easy to say it's just New York City.  But it's not just New York City," she said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.