The number of newly diagnosed AIDS and HIV cases in Louisville is increasing even as the fear of the deadly disease wanes. The number of newly diagnosed cases in Jefferson County rose from 80 in 2005 to 107 cases in 2008, The Courier-Journal‘s Laura Ungar reports. The number of new HIV cases increased from 136 cases to 154 in the same period.
“People think it’s a disease of the past. Unfortunately it’s very much alive,” said Janet Mann, director of program development for AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana.
“People think: All I have to do is take a few pills every day. But it still kills people … and it affects quality of life,” said Bobby Edelen (left, by C-J’s Kylene Lloyd). Edelen has lived with the disease that causes AIDS for 21 years. “Every day is not a picnic.”
Complacency, drug use and lack of education are causing the numbers to increase, health officials say. But while numbers rise, there is less money to deal with the growing need. HIV/AIDS funding to the Kentucky Department of Public Health dropped from $11 million in 2008 to $9.4 million in 2010.
There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there is medicine that can “keep people somewhat healthy by preventing the virus from reproducing or by blocking it from entering cells,” Ungar reports. But people respond to medicine in different ways. “Taking meds for HIV is similar to cancer patients taking chemotherapy. Some are able to take it. Some are deathly sick,” Edelen said. (Read more)