Treatments for HIV
Although there’s no cure, taking HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting HIV to their sexual partners. In addition, there are effective methods to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
What Is AIDS?
Per the Center for Disease Control (CDC) AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.
In the U.S., most people with HIV do not develop AIDS because taking HIV medicine every day as prescribed stops the progression of the disease.
A person with HIV is considered to have progressed to AIDS when:
- Without HIV medicine, people with AIDS typically survive about 3 years.
- Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. HIV medicine can still help people at this stage of HIV infection, and it can even be lifesaving.
How do you know if you have HIV/AIDS?
Testing is the only way to know you have either viruses and fortunately, testing is relatively easy. Most healthcare providers, medical clinics, substance abuse programs, community health centers, and hospitals offer tests. At home tests are also a great way to know your status as well.
For a large number of those diagnosed, individuals feel isolated and lonely. The Black community especially has a peculiar relationship with AIDS and HIV. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case for Johneri’O.
“It was crazy. It was definitely but scary but finding out my diagnosis made me stronger. I went straight home from the clinic and told my mom,” he said. “I grew up in the church. My lifestyle as a gay man was already an issue but I couldn’t care about that anymore.”
His status and the overall societal lack of awareness in compelled him to create the digital campaign #IAmNotHIV to share health information and offer people the opportunity to tap into a community of support that helps break down the walls built by stigma.
“I am not HIV, just like someone is not high blood pressure, cancer, or being homeless,” he said. “Those situations didn’t make me. I’m a son, I’m a published author. I’m not HIV.”