Man with HIV aims to break down stereotypes about the virus
Posted: Oct 25 2015 09:30PM MST
Updated: Oct 25 2015 10:01PM MST
Downtown Phoenix was a sea of red this morning as thousands came out to show their support for the annual "Aids Walk Arizona and 5K Run."
Organizers say it's a critical time to not only raise awareness, but funding as well thanks to many new advances in medical treatments.
A lot has changed since aids first arrived in US in the 1980s, but the stigma that surrounds the disease remains.
Now, walks like the one today aim to raise awareness and money for research, but also erase misconceptions.
One local man is on a mission to dispel misconceptions about AIDS and HIV, and he was one of thousands who came out to participate in today’s walk.
"I came out on Facebook, just to kind of tell my distant friends and family, I was on a need to know basis, so my entire life I didn't tell people that I was HIV positive at all," says Andrew Pulsipher.
Meet Andrew Pulsipher. At 34-years-old, he’s a husband and a father of three; and he’s been HIV positive since the day he was born.
"We haven't done actually that many AIDS walks, believe it or not,” Pulsipher said. “This is maybe like our third that we've ever done, just because we've kind of lived in the shadows of the HIV/AIDS community."
Now, out of the shadows and with his three children and wife by his side, Andrew says he welcomes questions that used to make him want to hide.
"I'm HIV positive but I'm undetectable,” says Pulsipher. “So it means there no virus in my blood, so when they draw my blood they can't find the HIV, even though it's there, it's still there, but it's almost like dormant because my medicines [are] working so well. “So the chances of my kids having it or my wife is about less than one percent chance, so we took a very, very, very small risk and you know we have a beautiful family."
By showing the world that not everything you heard about HIV is true, Andrew hopes to put the negative stereotypes that come with the disease in the past.
"The stigma is terrible, I mean it's awful, I mean, how many times has anyone heard an AIDS joke before? I have, you know, but that's when I was living a secret, so I never said anything."
Until then, Andrew says he'll keep answering questions to save lives.
"People are like, oh how do I help? I'm like well, 1 in 4 people don't know they're HIV positive, which means, 1 in 4 people are spreading this disease."
After coming out, Andrew was asked to be a contributor for the Huffington Post, a platform he uses to reach others living with HIV and AIDS.