It’s something many people don’t like to talk about, but it could mean the difference between life and death: knowing their HIV status.
When Eduardo Rosas Loranca learned he was HIV positive in June of 2017, he was devastated.
“I thought my health was just going to get worse,” said Rosas Loranca.
He is soon found out with treatment he could enjoy a beautiful life after HIV.
But, unlike Rosas Loranca, many other people remain uneducated about prevention and treatment as the number of new HIV cases skyrocket in South Florida.
“Miami-Dade, Broward counties really are the epicenter for this epidemic,” explained Imara Canady, Regional Director of Communications and Community Engagement for AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
While the number of new HIV cases are dropping across the United States, three times as many people are diagnosed in South Florida compared to other parts of the country.
“The more people that are tested, in treatment and successfully in treatment, will contribute to the halt of the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Esther Schumann, who works at AHF.
That’s the focus of World AIDS Day, which marks its 30th anniversary Dec. 1. The day is meant to encourage people to get tested and to raise awareness of prevention.
AHF says fear, stigma and lack of education are among the many factors contributing to South Florida’s high HIV rate. To help combat this epidemic, Canady believes the answer lies in making sure people know that the virus is now easier to treat.
“It could be a one pill a day regimen that will allow an individual to be what we called virally suppressed,” Canady explained. “And, it allows you to lead fruitful and healthy lifestyle.”
Rosas Loranca is doing just that after he learned he was eligible for HIV therapy. He wants other people to know there is help out there.
“We cannot waste time and allow a disease that is treatable to take over our lives,” explained Rosas Loranca.
He also wants people to hear his story.
“I wanted to change from a victim to a survivor,” said Rosas Loranca. “Right now, I’m feeling fantastic better than I’ve ever felt.”
To learn how you can take part in World AIDS Day, click here.
If you have been recently diagnosed with HIV, click here for treatment options provided by AHF.
And, to find a free testing site in South Florida, call 1-800-FLA-AIDS.