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Health

New York to spend additional $200 million to combat AIDS epidemic

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New York state will add another $200 million toward the effort to end the AIDS epidemic.

These new funds are on top of $2.5 billion the state has already committed to the fight against AIDS by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration. And that has made a difference according to Micheal Crinnen, head of ACR Health in Syracuse. He said beyond the billboards and publicity, it’s huge having the health department pushing universal testing for HIV so doctors offer it routinely.

“So, not to suggest to people that you might be someone who needs it," Crinnen said. "This is what we do.  We take your blood, we do routine tests. You can opt out of a test, like an HIV test, but to make it to opt out is a lot more powerful than asking people to opt in. It’s just psychology.”

While the increased testing identifies more people who are HIV positive, Crinnen said there is still a challenge getting some of these individuals to stay on the meds that can control the virus.

"People who are homeless and housing vulnerable people who can’t make ends meet. People who are couch surfing. People who are victims of domestic violence," Crinnen said. "They don’t have a life the is well regulated, that, 'Oh, I take my meds in the morning.'”

That’s where Crinnen hopes some of this new state funding will help. Part of it is earmarked to expand the availability of affordable housing for those living with HIV.