Raising awareness on World Aids Day still crucial, though diagnosis no longer a death sentence

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Millions around and world and in Central Ohio paused on Tuesday to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Launched in 1988, World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for the public to show support for those with HIV and those who have died.

world aids dayAccording to Columbus Public Health, nearly 4,200 Franklin County residents currently live with HIV and more than 200 individuals are diagnosed with the disease every year.

“I’m open about it at work and I’m open about it to my friends,” said Christopher Hetzer, who tested HIV-positive last year. “I put it out there because I want people to start talking openly and honestly, not only about drug addiction, but also HIV and sexual health.”

Hetzer said he contracted HIV while abusing crystal meth. Today, he applauds everyone who recognizes World AIDS Day.

“It gets people talking about HIV and AIDS,” he said. “It’s important in getting a cure for individuals like myself.”

Hetzer said he no longer uses drugs and he is now in a committed relationship.

He told NBC4 that his partner uses the relatively new drug Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to stay HIV-free.

For more information on the drug PrEP, visit http://www.ohioprep.org or http://columbus.gov/prep/

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