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Living With AIDS in 2014

By on December 8, 2014

Living with AIDS in the 21st century requires effort and support to manage personal health and protect the health of sexual partners.

Conservatively, it’s estimated that about 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 7 (or 14%) are unaware of their infection. To put this in perspectiove this World AIDS Day, consider that African Americans (age 13 and up) represent about 12% of the U.S. population but more than 40% of all new HIV infections.

It’s critical for the survival of the African American population to look at ways to disrupt HIV transmission. Josh, Healthy Man of the Month for November has a lot to say on this subject.

“The biggest focus for me is how I can protect others and myself when it comes to sexual relationships.”

Experts say sero-discordant couples, those where one person is HIV infected and one person is HIV negative, there are specific things to do to avoid HIV exposure and transmission.

Stopping HIV Transmission

  1. Consistently use latex condoms – even for oral sex
  2. Avoid needle-sharing for any reason (e.g. piercings, tattoos, etc.)
  3. Consistently take HIV medications to help suppress viral load
  4. Refrain from sexual contact in presence of any STI’s – get them treated

Talking candidly, Josh says, “I have no issue with dating. I thought it would have a huge impact on my dating life but HIV is so “Normal” in the gay community that people tend to overlook it. I’m not in a relationship now but I can say my next relationship will start off with a STD\HIV screening.”

Living with HIV/AIDS compromises the immune system, requiring effort to prevent getting an opportunistic infection (OI).

  • Use condoms consistently and correctly
  • Don’t share drug injection equipment
  • Get vaccinated – talk to your doctor
  • Don’t consume undercooked eggs, unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses, etc.

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“Being openly HIV positive can have its ups and downs, a lot of people message me with their stories and concerns which is a good thing because I’m glad I’m sending out some sort of message. On the other hand, social media can be rough. I’ve had to delete accounts because people say crazy things.  I’m open about my status because I wish I had someone like me a few years ago.”

If you or someone you know needs support in managing their HIV or AIDS diagnosis, you can contact your local health department or community health center for assistance.

 

Brandon Brooks is a graduate of  Drexel University’s School of Public Health, with a concentration in Health Management and Policy.