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Rochester organizations willing to go viral in the fight to stop HIV

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —The state of New York is on track to end the HIV epidemic by 2020.

New numbers from the Department of Public Health show the state has seen it’s largest decrease in new HIV diagnoses since 2014.

“I would love to normalize HIV in that way so we see it as routine testing and that people who may have HIV are seen no differently than folks that are living with diabetes or heart disease,” said Manager of Mocha, Jonathan Jordan.

That’s what organizations in Rochester are doing to fight the HIV epidemic.

“I think the turning of the corner is just making this something we have learned how to control, how to treat properly and hopefully, eventually eradicate,” said Director of Operations and Public Relations for Out Alliance, Tamara Leigh.

“When you put all of that together you begin to see a fall of HIV infections,” said Dr. William Valenti, co-founder of Trillium Health. “That is what this is all about. We have been at this a long time.”

According to the Public Health Department there were roughly 2,400 new cases reported in 2018. That was down by 11 percent from 2017.

“It makes me feel like the work we are doing is making an impact,” said Jordan. “It makes me feel like coming to work everyday. That I am making a difference. We are doing what has been set forth for us.”

The Ending the Epidemic initiative was launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014. It’s goal is to end the HIV epidemic by 2020.

“The point is to be educated, to be safe, and to make sure they are protected,” said Leigh. “So we never have to go through another epidemic to end.”

To win the fight against HIV, these organizations are willing to go viral.

“Social media helps a lot,” said Dr. Valenti. “It gets a lot of attention. That’s where and that’s how young people communicate.”

Annually the state has allocated $20 million since 2015 to support the work of the initiative. Also an estimated $2.2 billion has been spent to increase access to care and treatment for HIV.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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