- Are you Positive you’re Negative?
That was the question that was posed to people who came to the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center last Tuesday. It was part of their annual participation in the national HIV Testing Day.
GHVFHC Director of HIV/AIDS Services Carolyn Boustani said one in five people are living with HIV in the United States who don’t know that they are positive. And at least half, and possibly 3/4, of new infections, come from people who don’t know they are infected themselves.
“When you get tested, you are less likely to knowingly infect others,” Boustani said. “You are going to protect yourself and the people you love and that you’re with.” She states that knowing one’s status helps drive down the transmission rate of HIV.
In 2009, the mid-Hudson region represented 13% of the total number of persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York State, according to Boustani.
Boustani further explains that in the four county region (Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan), Orange County represents 29% of the mid Hudson cases.
“We were the second leading county behind Dutchess County,” Boustani said. “Orange County has a higher HIV/AIDS case rate than if you added Ulster and Sullivan together.”
The good news is that the distribution rate of HIV has leveled off: 34% for whites, 35% for African-Americans, and 23% for Hispanics.
There is still, however, a long way to go. City of Newburgh Councilwoman Gay Lee paid a visit to the festivities, helping to promote the event and draw attention to its importance.
“It’s so important to get tested at least every year,” Lee said. “I came to the Family Health Center to support the people who generally come out to get tested and to get tested myself, because I think it’s that important.”
HIV is now considered a chronic disease. People who are diagnosed as having HIV are no longer given a death sentence. Boustani states it’s now a manageable disease.
Boustani recalls a time when those infected were taking an enormous amount of pills (cocktails) in a day. That number dwindled to 15 pills, two times a day in the 1990s. Today, people are able to take one pill, one time a day to manage this disease.
“We are leap years ahead of the game,” Boustani said, in comparison to treatment of other diseases such as Diabetes. “We’ve come a long way.”
Click here to see more pictures