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Health & Wellness

Numbers offer a closer look at HIV prevalence in Buffalo

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The State Health Department says there are around 3,500 people living in Buffalo who are infected with HIV. Of those, 3,000 have been tested and diagnosed.

That means there are around 500 people in need of testing and long-term follow-up care.

Matthew Crehan Higgins is Evergreen Health's associate Vice President for enhanced medical services. Higgins says new treatments and new approaches dealing with patients are having major impacts.
                   

"Engaging so many people into becoming undetectable and have increased our PrEP engagement far more than the national trend has been able to show. And, I really do think that that's the result of not telling people what they should do but telling them what's available to them in making sure that they knew that they could engage in that without us telling them what they should be doing," Higgins said.

Last year, there were 25 more people diagnosed at Evergreen Health. They were mostly male, mostly under 30, majority African-American, mostly gay.

When they do seek treatment, Higgins says they find new medicines and new treatment plans.

"The things that we can say now with certainty is that there is a daily pill that prevents HIV, that we know with certainty that an HIV-positive person on effective treatment cannot transmit HIV forward are revolutionary ideas<" Higgins said.

"But, not enough people know about them yet. And, also, as much effort as we and the State Department of Health put into making sure that people get these messages, it's hard to let go of what you believed for 30 years."