PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — What used to be seen as a death sentence is now seen as another chance to live life.
Local community members are trying to bring awareness to HIV and how to deal with the prognosis. From 2009-2013, Peoria had the lowest HIV disease diagnosis rate with 4.3 diagnoses per 100,000 people.
Joshua Morgan, a Peorian living with HIV, said the day-to-day is typically the same: you wake up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, take your medications and go to bed.
Morgan did not believe it would be like that at first, though.
“My very first reaction was I’m dead. I thought, you know, as anybody would, I figured I was just handed a death sentence,” said Morgan.
When Morgan was told he had HIV, he thought the news was not meant for him.
“I had to deal with it. It was at that point where I had two options handed to me. I could either die and let it consume my life and give up, or I could fight like anybody can and live. It made me realize how much I actually love life,” Morgan said.
Bruce Broughton, a medical case manager at Positive Health Solutions, found out he was HIV positive while in the military. He did not expect the diagnosis either.
“It was a hard pill to swallow when I found out I was HIV positive because at that time, people were dying and I didn’t know what my future was going to be,” said Broughton.
At the time he found out, he was given a three-to-five year life expectancy, but when medicine became available, he had to learn how to live again.
Now Broughton uses what he has learned about HIV to educate others about how to get resources.
Broughton said, “The biggest thing I try to tell them, the most important thing is get on medication. Stay adherent to your medication and stay in care. Once you do that, your life, things will start just falling into place, it just takes time.”
Of the 45,000 people living with HIV in Illinois, up to 13% don’t know they have it, so those with multiple partners should get tested every six months.
Resources for those living with HIV or wanting to learn more about it can check out the links below: