Macon Doctor: 1,200 people in Middle Georgia HIV positive
Charlie Sheen announced he’s HIV positive on the Today show Tuesday morning. The actor said he was diagnosed about 4 years ago, but wanted to keep it private and only told a few people. He said those people then blackmailed him for millions of dollars to keep his secret. He hoped by telling the truth, he can put that extortion behind him.
“I release myself from this prison today. It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life,” said Sheen.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
“We probably have about 1,100 to 1,200 active patients in this area. We’re talking about all of Middle Georgia,” said Dr. Harold Katner from Mercer University’s School of Medicine.
Dr. Katner said his clinic diagnoses someone new every three to four days.
“It’s still young people. We had a 22 year-old today,” recalled Dr. Katner.
Dr. Katner explained the diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.
“If people take their medications, they can live until old age and die of old age,” said Dr. Katner.
Medications can be as simple as one pill once a day.
“They have three different active agents against the virus and if you take them properly, they keep the virus under control,” explained Dr. Katner.
Dr. Katner said with proper treatment, the virus level could go below zero which means it can’t be transmitted. He wants people to know they’re not alone and there are resources available to help them. One of them is the Hope Center in Macon.
“If you qualify, you’ll get put on this drug assistance program. We’ll get you the medications, we’ll monitor you. You’re going to get just as good as care as Magic Johnson,” said Dr. Katner.
To get in touch with the Hope Center, call the Macon-Bibb Health Department at (478) 745-0411.