With social media buzzing about a recent celebrity’s admission of contracting the virus, medical professionals here, at home say they want residents to be aware of the risks, and the help available for those with HIV.
Actor Charlie Sheen’s admission he is HIV positive caught the attention of many.
HIV Program Director at Arnot Hospital, Rebecca Moss, said the measures he took to hide his illness, is a reflection of the damaging stigma in the United States.
“That’s just indicative of the stigma that does exist in the way that people are reacting to him is further demonstrating how people feel about HIV,” said Moss. “HIV is no longer a death sentence it’s a chronic condition that we can treat.”
Arnot’s program said statistically, the virus which gradually attacks the immune system and can develop into aids if left untreated is higher in Chemung, Broom and Tompkins counties than it is in more rural areas of New York state.
“We see about maybe five new infections diagnosed per year. Our concern is primarily those who are not diagnosed those who have not been tested and are unaware of their status,” said Moss.
to help people become aware of their status moss’s office currently offers prep, or pre-exposure prophylaxis.
“Two drugs in one pill that can be taken by an individual who thinks that they may be at risk of contracting HIV and so by taking this pill once a day, every day,” said Moss, “they can prevent becoming infected.”
To anyone who is fearful of what test results may yield, Moss said it is always better to know, to take action.
“We can get that individual into care treat that individual, we can not only prevent them from transmitting to others but we can keep them healthy,” said Moss. “We can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle a normal lifestyle where they can have we can have children they can have a family we can live a relatively normal life.”