LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- World AIDS Day is held on Dec. 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
The fight against HIV and AIDS continues nation-wide. The numbers, even across Acadiana, have increased. A local advocate for HIV AIDS prevention shares his story facing the disease.
“I didn’t want to know. I was terrified because I knew I was living an unhealthy life,” said Larry Nickles.
Larry Nickles, HIV and AIDS prevention spokesperson was diagnosed with HIV at age 30. “It took a large toll on me because I was so big on teaching on how not get, and then I became ill with that,” Nickles said.
From that moment, he said his life went spinning out of control, into depression and self-destruction. “The moment it happened you just start killing yourself daily by drugging and drinking, and you know, promiscuous sex… Just doing all kinds of things that would rush it because you didn’t want to live that way,’ he added.
After 25 years of hi running from the disease, Nickles decided to fight against it. He sought treatment from Acadiana Cares.
“If we can get everybody that’s living with HIV on their meds, on a proper regimen and get their viral load undetectable, they are no longer infectious,” said Claude Martin, CEO of Acadiana Cares.
CEO Claude Martin presented reports from the 2017 Surveillance Quarterly Report. Across the parishes, Evangeline Parish is shown to have 94 cases, St. Landry Parish with 299 and Lafayette with 795 cases of those living with the disease.
“It was a lack of knowledge on my behalf, because if I would have known, how to protect myself. It would’ve been a better situation,” Nickles added.
He continues to be an active advocate. With proper medication, he is now tested as uninfectious and living a healthy lifestyle. He believes that it is not the diagnosis that destroys lives, but the fear of reaching out for help.
Acadiana Cares kicked off a digital and out-reach campaign on World AIDS Day with healthcare providers on-site. It highlighted treatment that has helped those diagnosed as HIV-positive become undetectable and uninfectious.