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NBC4: On National HIV Testing Day, man living with virus stresses importance of knowing your status

By Tyler Carter, NBC4

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Wednesday is national HIV Testing Day to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing.

The CDC says 39,000 new diagnoses were reported in 2016. Knowing your status is important and will help reduce the status around the virus.

“Initially I thought it was a death sentence,” said Devin Quinn.

Quinn, 29, is HIV positive.

“You don’t know what questions you should be asking. You make a lot of assumptions,”he said.

May 12th, 2012 was the day he received his positive status.

“It is a pretty devastating experience initially,” said Quinn.

Devastation that turned into activism. After receiving the news, Quinn immediately got himself connected with a doctor to educate himself on his health.

“I take one pill once a day,” said Quinn.

The virus has suppressed in his blood stream to an undetectable level. While he still has HIV,  this means his undetectable status can’t pass the HIV virus on to others.

This is commonly known as “U equals U” – undetectable equals un-transmittable. This came from just knowing his status.

“Over half of the infections are among youth between 13 and 29,” said Dwayne Steward, director of prevention at Equitas Health.

Steward says having conversations like this is the step in the right direction to prevention, whether you are affected or not.

“In Ohio there are still 23,000 people who are living with HIV. In 2016, 1,000 new infections took place,” said Steward.

According to the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health, the majority of new HIV diagnoses are in gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men.

For Quinn, knowing his status and educating himself was a matter of life versus death.

“Your life is going to change but it doesn’t mean it’s going to change for the worst. HIV doesn’t have to be as scary as a lot of people think it is, said Quinn.

Testing is available through your health care provider and Equitas Health also has free testing. Click here for more information: http://equitashealth.com/services/hivsti-testing/