It’s been 20 years since N-B-A star Magic Johnson revealed he tested H-I-V positive. Over those two decades, the HIV-AIDS landscape in Kentucky has changed greatly. Magic Johnson was proof, in a high profile way, that an early diagnosis of H-I-V positive didn’t always end in disease and death. In the early-1980s, when AIDS was first identified, the mortality rate was virtually 100 percent in Kentucky. In 2009, Fayette County H-I-V coordinator Sarah Alleyne says the mortality rate stood at five percent. Alleyne adds early diagnosis allows for early treatments that keep H-I-V in check.
“If you don’t test, let’s say for ten years, and then by the time that you test..by the time you have that HIV diagnosis you also have an AIDS diagnosis..well that’s gonna be a lot harder to bring you back into good health,” said Alleyne.
Today, many H-I-V infected Kentuckians people live nearly normal lives Alleyne says the drug regime for patients has been scaled down immensely…
“We have better medications with fewer side effects now…where, as we said, taking 27 pills a day back in the late 80’s early 90’s..now you’ve got people who can one pill a day…two pills…I mean it’s really much better,” added Alleyne.
Alleyne says statistics gathered from 2005 to 2009 showed 81 percent of those Kentuckians infected with H-I-V were male.