NEW ORLEANS -- As Dave Fuller walks in his fifth straight "Walk to End HIV" at Crescent Park he couldn’t help but think he’s one of the lucky ones.
“I was diagnosed with HIV back in 2010,” Fuller said. “But when I was diagnosed there were so many (medical) advances that it really didn’t bother me because I knew it wasn’t a death sentence.”
HIV would be a death sentence for Delisa Bale’s brother.
“My brother didn’t have the proper medication. He was in denial, but God has him today,” Bale said.
Though HIV treatment has improved in recent years, organizers say there are still obstacles to overcome. So on Saturday, thousands showed up to support and raise funds for CrescentCare’s No Aids Task Force. In addition to fundraising, the event also focused on prevention and treatment.
“We know that if we get individuals living with HIV to be virally suppressed that they are virtually unable to pass the virus on to another person through sex,” said Noel Twilbeck with CrescentCare.
Experts say there is still an unwarranted stigma that comes along with HIV. Though, organizers are hopeful that could change with awareness.
“If you see your neighbor, if you see people in your church, if you see people in your community getting tested it de-stigmatizes it, it opens it up,” said Nicholas Van Sickels, chief medical officer with CrescentCare.
For Fuller, he is happy he’s been able to get treatment from CrescentCare and other resources, now he just hopes others can get the same help he received.
“You need something like CrescentCare and No Aids Task Force to help with the medications otherwise no one could afford them,” Fuller said. “As long as I stay on my regiment I am fine.”
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Paul Dudley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.