FREDERICK, Md (WDVM)– December 1st is World Aids Day and Hood College hosted an awareness brunch to spread knowledge about this treatable disease.
According to the Frederick Health Department, Maryland has seen less than 1,000 new HIV cases in 2018. This is the first time since 1986 that Maryland has seen numbers less than that.
Hood College teamed up with the Frederick county health department to celebrate people living healthy lives with HIV and also provide information about how to end the epidemic in the US.
“The most important thing for all of us to do is to be advocates and to help raise awareness. Events like this give me an opportunity to not only share my story but to share with folks it’s up to them to help too because I can’t do this by myself,” said HIV activist Vaughn Ripley.
Ripley has been living with HIV for over 33 years now and is one of the longest surviving HIV positive people on the planet.
“I was born with hemophilia and when I was a teenager I got a bad batch of blood and got HIV that way and my family doctor told me I only had 2 years to live,” said Ripley.
Ripley has dedicated his time and energy to help others with this disease and wants people to know that there is hope.
When asked what helped him through this process he answered, “First and foremost is it is not the end of the world. I was told that I had less than two years to live but the truth of the matter is this is not a death sentence. This is something that is manageable and you can live with it. The second thing I would say is to utilize your support system your family and friends and make sure you stay surrounded by people who will uplift you and help you through this process. “
Ripley hopes that with continued education and awareness the stigma against HIV will end.
According to the Maryland department of health over 50% of people between the ages of 13 and 24 living with HIV remain undiagnosed. To find out your status or for more information about HIV visit gettested.cdc.gov/