NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On June 5, 1981, the CDC released a report about five men in Los Angeles diagnosed with what would eventually be known as HIV.
"So now we have come from a place where there was no treatment at all 40 years ago, to it being as simple as one small pill a day for many people living with HIV to manage it," said Clinic Coordinator and Patient Ambassador of My House, Charles Brown. The clinic serves more than 8,000 clients living with HIV.
"There's still a lot of ignorance out there and that's part of what we here at My House and at Nashville CARES are trying to do, which is to remove some of that ignore about how one gets HIV, how HIV is treated," he said.
Even though annual HIV infections have decreased 73% since 1981, Brown said one of the biggest challenges isn't finding treatment- it's fighting the stigma. "I talk to a fair amount of people who are fearful of getting tested because they don't simply want to know."
That's why My House wants to increase access to HIV testing whether on its site, at one of their drive-thru locations, or even taking an at-home test. In some cases, results come in at least two minutes.
"I honestly feel that everyone regardless of their sexual practices, regardless of their sexual attractions should be tested for HIV every six to twelve months," said Brown.
From 2015 to 2019 Tennessee actually saw a 4% increase of new cases- for Brown, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, he attributes it to outreach and said, "we're doing a good job in educating and getting people into care and into treatment that previously probably were going unreported."
Today the epidemic may be over, but for people like Brown, the battle still continues.
"The people that work in this field and are on the front lines of that battle are committed," he said," and are passionate about it and are not going stop fighting until we win until we end the epidemic of HIV."
For information about testing at My House, click here.