We hear so much about the coronavirus these days, but not so much about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Today, about 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV. We’ve come a long way in diagnosing, treating, and preventing the virus since it was first discovered in the United States in the early ‘80s.

Daniel Downer found out he had HIV when he was just 20 years old.

“Coming from a background as a preacher’s kid where I was very sheltered, where I didn’t have any information, or I wasn’t told about you need to wear a condom,” says Downer.

Andre Nelson also has the virus.

“I’m my mother’s only child. I would break her heart if she had to bury me, especially for something that possibly could be prevented,” Nelson voiced.

These men are living in a time when researchers are making big strides against a virus that used to be considered deadly.

One breakthrough in prevention is PrEP –a daily pill that people at high risk for HIV can take to prevent the infection. Studies show PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 percent.

Recent research has also suggested male circumcision has been an effective prevention strategy for reducing HIV transmission in men.

Antiretroviral drugs have become the mainstay therapy. There are seven classes of these meds, which interfere with the ways HIV replicates.

Researchers are also studying vaccines and stem cell transplants as possible treatments for the virus.

A new study suggests that people living with HIV may be more likely to contract, be hospitalized, and die of COVID-19. Experts say if you have HIV, you should be extra vigilant about handwashing, social distancing, and mask wearing.

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