I’ve been reading a great post from QSaltLake about living with HIV in Utah – the Beehive State. Yes, HIV does exist in Utah and the rate of infection is growing.
Most of the media coverage on HIV tends to be in the larger cities and on the coast. But this post tends to highlight some of my biggest concerns about this new generation and HIV infection. Here is a passage that is worth sharing:
“I think people have become complacent about HIV because there are so many things going on in this world,” said Griffin, noting that awareness campaigns around diseases like cancer, while necessary, have had the unfortunate effect of leaving HIV/AIDS “in the dirt.” “And I also think [people] go, ‘Oh, they have such good drugs out for it now. People aren’t dying the way they used to.’… I have talked to friends who say, ‘Why is it so important to use condoms anymore? HIV is nothing new. It’s just HIV.”
I see first hand in my son’s life that HIV is most definitely something new for your body. It is a chronic viral infection that your body must fight everyday. In order to stay healthy, you must address it through lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, exercise, and ultimately taking medication. You may not be dying, but your life is sure changing.
We don’t see HIV as a major deal anymore because people are not dying in front of us as they did twenty years ago. Dying today? No. But life forever changed? Yes. Do you want the words viral load and CD4 count to become some of the most important to your everyday life?
Stan Penfold, Executive Director of the Utah AIDS Foundation laid out the situation this way: “ “Education has become so challenging because in many ways, when the epidemic was new and big and scary, you had the press and everybody on board. It was something people talked about or at least were aware of. Today it’s possible that someone who is 18–20 hasn’t even considered HIV is around. They may have not gotten any education in school, including what the risk factors are. They don’t think they know anybody with HIV though they probably do , and if they do they’re living relatively healthy, fortunately, if they’re on meds.”
Know somebody who is 18 -20 years old? Let them know that HIV does exist in Utah.