WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - According to the World Health Organization, the human immunodeficiency virus targets the immune system and weakens people’s defense systems against infections and some types of cancer. After the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s where a diagnosis felt like a death sentence, science has come a long way.
“In the most recent news from the CDC, a viral load under 200 is considered untransmittable. So if a person’s viral load is under 200 they cannot transmit the virus to somebody else” said Jason Wheat with communicable disease prevention at Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District.
“Ask for the test, get tested, whatever the results are get into care, and stay in care. It’s just like any other chronic infection,” he said.
Meet Karl Schmid, a reporter for KABC’s “On the Red Carpet” in Los Angeles. He disclosed his status as HIV positive 18 months ago. Schmid has been in magazines, national and international television telling his story.
“My friends and family knew, but I was told in my professional life ‘Don’t talk about it, you don’t want to be known as ‘The guy with AIDS’ on television.’ We now know that’s just a ridiculous statement, and somehow or another I’m quite proud to be known as the guy living with HIV on television,” Schmid said.
Since disclosing his status publicly Schmid has created PlusLife Media a resource for those living with HIV.
“We’ve created this platform where people can see, and hear, and interact with people that look, and sound just like them...we are just human beings living with HIV and hopefully educating the world on what it means to be living with HIV in 2019, 2020 and into the future,” said Schmid.
According to a new study from The Prevention Access Campaign and the pharmaceutical company Merck more than one-quarter of HIV-negative millennials surveyed report that they avoid hugging, talking, or being friends with someone who is HIV-positive.
“HIV as a virus is very fragile outside of the body it can only live three to four seconds. So, glasses, shaking hands, casual contact is not a risk. The risk comes when it’s in a needle, or an airtight area or in a pool of blood where a part is protected from the air," Wheat said.
Wheat also talked about PrEP “It’s a medication called Truvada its nickname is 'PrEP’ for pre-exposure prophylaxis, so if you’re on Truvada, or PrEP before exposure to HIV it’s a preventive of contracting HIV."
“Occasions like Dec. 1, or world aids day are important for the whole world to stop and remember who we lost, and to celebrate those we lost, but for us to celebrate just how far we’ve come," Schmid said. “The end is in our reach, we can wipe this thing out, right now, but we have to overcome stigma and we have to educate ourselves and have a discussion. We have to talk about HIV and have a discussion it’s really not that scary.”