1.1 million people are living with the HIV virus right now. One in seven people do not even know that they have it. June 27th is National HIV Testing Day, and there’s a call for young people between the ages of 13 and 24 in the LGBTQ community to get tested.
This young man asked not to be identified; his mother still does not know that he is HIV positive.
“I was 17 when I was diagnosed. It kind of took me on a whirlwind because it’s like I don’t know anything about HIV and here I am, positive.”
Daniel and Andre see kids like this young man every day at the Bros in Convo initiative where young people in the LGBTQ community can go for support and free testing. Daniel and Andre have been living with HIV for more than 10 years.
“For myself, it was more, so I immediately went into fight mode.” said Andre Nelson.
Now, medications called PrEP, a daily pill that suppresses the virus in people who already have it can also be used by people most at risk of getting it.
“Some of those antiretroviral drugs can be used for people who are not living with HIV to reduce the chance of acquiring HIV through sex.” said Patrick Sullivan.
Investigators at Stanford University have shown a new type of vaccine that not only uses antibodies to kill the virus, but also turns on an army of immune cells that target HIV, creating what could be a vaccine and a cure. But, before any of this can work, you have to be tested.
“Almost half of young people, 13 to 24 who are living with HIV don’t know their status.” Sullivan said.
Testing, prevention, and hopefully soon, a cure.
“I’m my mother’s only child. It would break her heart if she had to bury me, especially for something that possibly could be prevented.” Andre Nelson said.