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HIV Advocates Raise Awareness Ahead of World Aids Day

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, December 1, 2022 7:36 am

RENO, Nev. (775 Times, NV Globe) – It is a lifelong illness that affects the immune system that has been around since the 1980s.

On World AIDS Day, many people will mourn individuals who have died as a result of the disease.

“My mom died at 26 so she didn’t have no time to live out her dreams or anything like that and I tell people that she died because of the stigma,” Andy Feds, a “Keeping it Positive” HIV advocate said.

Feds is an outspoken HIV/AIDS supporter, and not just because of his mother. He was born with HIV.

“When I tell people that I was born positive, they immediately think ‘Oh, he must be gay, or oh, he must be promiscuous or oh, he might be a drug user or he has AIDs’ and it’s like no, I have never had AIDS, I’ve always been interested in women…” Feds said.

According to Feds, believing that HIV only affects a certain set of individuals is one of several myths surrounding the disease.

Gus Marquez, the infectious disease program coordinator of Northern Nevada HOPES, always urges individuals to share accurate information.

“Educating ourselves, educating our peers, educating our family, our support systems,” Marquez said.

He says unlike in the past, HIV is not a death sentence.

“Medication and treatment has come leaps and bounds in the last 25 to 30 years,” Marquez said.

“There was a time when I was taking 10 pills a day and now, I’m taking two,” Feds said.

Marquez says one of the most important steps to ending the HIV epidemic is getting tested.

HOPES offers free HIV testing and works with people to identify treatment alternatives if the findings are positive.

“If you are living with HIV, I always say the first thing to do, especially if you’re recently diagnosed [is] self-love,” Feds said.

“You can’t allow somebody else to love you, if you don’t have that love for yourself.”

Feds lives what he preaches, turning his personal HIV experience into a career as an author, stand-up comedian, and campaigner.

“You know, life can be funny even with HIV,” Feds said with a smile.

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, the HOPES campus will conduct a candlelight vigil from 5 to 6 p.m. tomorrow. to mourn those who have died as a result of HIV and to applaud advances in preventative care.

More information on Andy Feds and his book may be found here.

Credits: KoloTv

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