NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - A Northwest Arkansas man admitted in court that he purposely contracted HIV to infect others.
A long term HIV survivor, Mark Williams, said it's people like the man who intentionally infected himself who motivate him to raise awareness about what hiv and aids is really about.
"There's a big stigma about it," said Williams.
15 years ago, Williams got the diagnosis that he was HIV positive.
"The most immediate response in your mind is, I'm going to die," said Williams.
Now, he works to change those fears, and educate people who find out they now live with the disease.
"When you have somebody that you need to break the news to them after they've done this test..you're HIV positive, it's probably the most devastating news you'll hear." said Williams.
Williams said with improved medicine, the virus isn't a death sentence.
"People are living 25-30 years with it. It's not a thing to fear anymore." said Williams.
But not everyone realizes that, which is why Williams and Planned Parenthood stresses the importance of getting tested.
Not only for HIV and aids but for all sexually transmitted diseases.
"It's going to be important for everybody to know their status. But there are going to be some patients who because of their higher risk it's going to be more important for them to get frequent testing." said Dr. Stephanie Ho with Planned Parenthood.
Williams said another thing people don't understand is you can't contract the disease by shaking someone's hand or drinking after a person who has HIV/AIDS.
"Contracting HIV is actually very difficult. The virus doesn't really like living outside of the blood," said Williams.
With the efforts of William's testing site, and Planned Parenthood's services they hope our community will be more knowledgeable about their health.
"We should all assume that everybody, man and woman, is HIV positive," said Williams.
To see the original story about the man who admitted he purposely contracted HIV to infect others, click here.
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