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BROWARD (CBSMiami) – It’s World AIDS Day. A day to remember those who we’ve lost to crippling disease. It’s also a time when everyone can reflect on how far the fight against HIV and AIDS has progressed.
JaBari Harris remembers how hard 2010 was for him. It’s when he learned he was HIV positive.
“I was destroyed” he said.
Nico Thomas got his diagnosis in 2013.
“I always had the mindset, ‘Oh, I’ll have unprotected sex but it won’t happen to me, because it hasn’t happened yet.’ Then when it did happen, it was real.”
Harris and Thomas have known each other for years but just started dating last month.
Each has taken control of their health, after learning they were HIV positive.
“My dad was just like, ‘Take the medicine, shut up and stop crying. Life goes on.’ That’s kind of what I live by since then,” said Thomas.
They take their meds religiously and are both healthy – and quite happy.
The two learned about treatment options from Broward House in Wilton Manors.
They now do their part to spread the word to others about the importance of knowing your HIV status.
Doctors explain getting into treatment can nearly erase signs HIV from your body.
“When someone’s HIV viral load becomes undetectable,” Dr. Michael Sension from Broward Health explained, “not only is that a good thing for the patient themselves, but their ability to transmit HIV is greatly reduced.
While Miami-Dade and Broward lead the state in HIV cases, and Florida has the most new cases in the country, according to the Florida Department of Health, medication has drastically changed the outlook for millions.
“Upwards of 80 to 90 percent of our patients have no measurable HIV in their bodies because they’re be successfully treated for their HIV,” said Dr. Sension.
With all that optimism, though, there is still a warning – there is no cure.
But at least now people are living healthy lives with hope that one day it will be gone for good.
“We’re not really worried about the speed, as long as the wheel is still turning then we’re grateful to be on the ride,” said Harris.
If you’d like to find out more about World AIDS Day events around South Florida, or find a free testing location check out the following links:
Tuesday night there is a march and rally in Wilton Manors. It begins at 7 p.m. at Hagen Park and ends with a candlelight vigil at the Pride Center at Equality Park.