BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Sharon Decuir works on the front line of HIV awareness, as a prevention coordinator she's often the first one to tell some one they're HIV positive.
“It's heartbreaking because in that moment you're telling someone in so many terms that they have to deal with something for the rest of their lives,” she explained.
Decuir, positive for ten years now, shared that lately she and her colleagues have noticed some disturbing trends in attitudes toward positive diagnoses.
“Some of them have a complex of, ‘well, it's going to happen anyway.’ Or, ‘well it was going to happen at some point.’ That’s the wrong idea to have, because HIV is preventable, you just have to use a condom,” Decuir said.
“There is a small portion of the population that realizes they participate in risky behaviors and for whatever reason don't want to change that. They just feel like, 'well at some point I am going to get HIV, but it's so well treated these days, I don't have to fear it,'’ Meredith Lampton, a nurse with the Caring Clinic shared.
We spoke with a patient, diagnosed just a few years ago, who didn't want his identity revealed. He admitted he knew he was taking risks at the time before his diagnosis but never believed he would get the virus.
“Individuals will see the information and see all the resources that are available through advertisements about safe sex and just put it in the back of their mind as if it’s not going to happen to them. And then before even getting tested they sit there and they pray that the result doesn’t come back positive. Just like me, I was no different,” he explained.
Decuir said one group in particular is seeing higher infection rates than any other, young black men.
“As far as most, I would say between 18 and 29, it was always, ' I never thought it would happen to me.' Even though you have some who, it's going to happen to them one day,” Decuir explained.
The patient we spoke to is a part of that growing group, he agrees among his friends the infection rate is high. When asked how many of his friends are HIV positive he said about three out of five. Admitting it is a high number.
He said he doesn't quite know why the infection rate is so high among his peers, maybe it's attitude or lack of education. These days he said a positive diagnosis can be a wake up call or an excuse to give up.
“They don't care for themselves or others so they're going to infect people as much as they want to. And then you find out later that they passed away because they didn't take care of themselves, and infected other people. There’s people that take it and make it for the better, they get involved with their communities," he said.
Decuir said the most frustrating thing about the high infection rates and the way those at risk view HIV, is the information is out there. Some people she said, just need an attitude adjustment.
"It’s not as much confusing as it is disappointing. We need individuals to start caring more about themselves, you know put yourself first. Who is your favorite person? The person that you're looking back at the mirror at. To take on that attitude,” she said.