Drivers on Salina Street are seeing red today, but it is for a good cause. Onondaga County and City of Syracuse officials met with AIDS Community Resources Director Michael Crinnin to paint a red stripe down Salina Street in honor of the A-C-R’s Paint the Town Red Campaign for AIDS awareness.
Crinnin says as A-C-R celebrates its 30th year of service, it’s good to reflect on the changes in the agency’s work over those years.
“It was a very difficult and different time 30 years ago when we really were working with people who were dying with AIDS. It’s been great to see the progress. Really and truly when people come to us they are living with AIDS.”
Crinnin says the agency has responded to this shift by putting greater importance on HIV prevention. Onondaga County Health Commissioner Cynthia Murrow says there is still work to be done in preventing complacency when it comes to AIDS awareness.
“We are continuing to see (new) cases even though it’s 100 percent preventable. We really need to get the message out, it’s a preventable disease and every case is one case too many.”
Murrow says the increasing rates of syphilis and gonorrhea within Central New York show people are not doing enough to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner declared May 28th Paint the Town Red Day and presented a plaque to A-C-R for 30 years of dedication.
NEW ROLE FOR AIDS SERVICE AGENCY
AIDS Community Resources has provided case management services and education to people living with AIDS since 1983. HIV/AIDS was recently categorized as a chronic disease rather than a terminal illness. The agency is preparing to take on new cases as its operations expand to include people suffering from all kinds of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and substance use. Executive Director Michael Crinnin says the expansion of A-C-R is part of New York State’s Health Home initiative.
“The state has decided two things, one they’re not going to look at H-I-V in an exclusive way, which they have done for 30 years. Number two, they’re starting to look at the value of all those case management services that people with AIDS have had for 30 years and saying, ‘you know what? We should be doing this for other chronic diseases.’”
Crinnin says the state is still figuring out how many new people each agency will now serve. He is holding off on hiring new staff until he gets a better estimate of how many more people will require the agency’s services but says some of the agency offices will expand. Crinnin says the A-C-R already helps many people deal with these other chronic diseases and he believes his agency is ready to respond to these new cases.