MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On World AIDS Day, there is encouraging news for people living with HIV.

“I’ve been an HIV survivor for the past 27 years,” Anthony Johnson tells CBS4 News, he learned he was HIV positive in 1995. “It was really a devastating experience,” Johnson said. “All I could think of is, ‘I’m going to die.’”

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His life changed quickly. He lost his job and home and was dealing with a host of medical issues.

“I told her I was HIV positive, she said, ‘Wait one moment.’ Left, a few minutes later came back and said, ‘I need you to leave!’” He recalled.  “When I got home all my stuff was already out on the ground outside the landlady said, ‘No AIDS fa**ot is going to live here!”

Anthony’s world looks very different today. He’s in a long-term relationship, got his degree, and volunteers at the World Aids Museum and he’s an advocate to help others.

All of this, thanks to medical advances. “It’s one little tiny pill a day, what used to be horse pills, is now a tiny little pill,” he laughed.

Dr. Ana Puga is with Care Resource. “Right now, we have all the tools to stop HIV, we have the treatment tools and we have the prevention tools,” Dr. Puga said.

Florida ranks number 3 nationwide for new HIV infections. Miami-Dade is number one in the state, followed by Broward.

Dr. Puga is encouraged, as even more treatment options become available.

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“The FDA approved the first long-acting medication for HIV, you come in once a month and get two injections. That’s it, that’s your treatment for HIV,” she said.

There’s prevention now too called Prep, where taking one pill a day can greatly reduce your risk of infection.

The key in all this, however, is having frank, candid conversations with your doctor.

“They need to talk about their mental health, their emotional health, the physical health, and their sexual health. And sexual health is really important,” Dr. Puga said.

Anthony is grateful for the changes in his life and is looking forward to many years ahead.

“I’m a 51-year-old man, looking forward to going into my 60’s healthy. I was talking to my partner about when we’re going to retire,” he said with a smile.

For more information about testing, treatment, and prevention, click on the following links:

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CareResource.org
BrowardHouse.org
WorldAidsMuseum.org

Ted Scouten