Close this search box.

Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date on the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Syracuse, Central New York and beyond.


State awards Upstate Medical $1 million grant for HIV program

(Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University announced it will use a five-year, $1 million grant to support a program that seeks to “keep vulnerable populations free of HIV.”

The New York State Department of Health awarded the grant for the school’s new program called “pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services for general and HIV primary care,” Upstate said in a recent news release.

The program “closely aligns” with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Ending the Epidemic Blueprint2” to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York to 750 by the end of 2020.


The 750 figure would be down from an estimated annual infection rate of 3,000 people, according to Upstate Medical.

The program is available to healthy, HIV-negative adults and adolescents ages 13 and over who are at-risk for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infections (STI).

It is available through Upstate’s Immune Health Services and the pediatric infectious disease/young adult specialized-care center, a program of the Pediatric Designated AIDS Center.

Upstate Medical’s Immune Health Services was formerly known as the Designated AIDS Center (DAC).

The grant funds a PrEP case manager who works on site with clients, providing assistance in securing insurance coverage and a primary-care physician, if needed.

The case manager also helps clients assess their readiness for PrEP and addresses any barriers to receiving medical care, helps ensure that they are medication compliant, that they have access to “necessary” medications, and provides follow-up support during their treatment.

The grant also pays for an outreach specialist who provides education on HIV and HIV prevention to providers and consumers in the community.

The outreach specialist also “reduces and alleviates client/patient stigma” through education and awareness programs.

The state Health Department named Upstate Medical a Designated AIDS Center in 1988 and a Pediatric Designated AIDS Center in 1990.

The school changed the name of the DAC to Immune Health Services in early 2015 to “better reflect the scope of services it provides patients,” according to the news release.

Immune Health Services treats between 1,200 and 1,300 patients annually, while the Pediatric Designated AIDS Center treats about 100 patients annually, the medical school said.

“By offering comprehensive prevention programs to youth and adults at risk for HIV and treatment to those who are living with HIV, we are making great strides towards ending the HIV epidemic,” Dr. Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy, medical director for Immune Health Services, said in the Upstate Medical news release.

Asiago-Reddy provides medical direction for the adults who are seen at the program. “Once an individual knows his or her HIV status, we can help halt the spread of the disease. The services that we offer, such as on-going HIV/STI screenings and health assessments will help to achieve this goal,” said Asiago-Reddy.

Dr. Leonard Weiner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, provides medical direction for the program’s adolescent population.

The program gives clients “greater access” to medications that are “necessary” to maintain their health, Weiner said in the news release.

“All clients take PrEP, a daily pill called Truvada, to reduce their risk of contracting HIV,” said Weiner. “It has been shown that people who take PrEP regularly drop their risk of getting HIV by greater than 90 percent.”

To receive a prescription, individuals first need to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, Upstate said.

In addition to using PrEP, taking other steps towards safer sex can “further reduce” the risk of HIV, the medical school added.

Contact Reinhardt at


Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date on the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Syracuse, Central New York and beyond.