HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Actor Charlie Sheen’s announcement that he is HIV-positive has put the virus back into the headlines.
“HIV aids never went away. In fact, it became more common,” said Dr. John D. Goldman, an infectious disease specialist at PinnacleHealth. “What changed is people do not really die from it anymore. We have very good treatments.”
According to a 2014 report from the state Department of Health, more than 58,00 people in Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with HIV since 1980. About 5,800 of those people live in South Central Pennsylvania and that includes the Midstate.
Here is how the numbers break down by county:
- Dauphin: 1,024
- Lancaster: 856
- York: 770
- Cumberland: 392
- Franklin: 142
- Lebanon: 138
- Adams: 78
“If you were to compare the number of people dying from AIDS now compared to 20 years ago, it is actually down by 80 percent,” Goldman said.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone get tested for HIV.
“The longer you wait to be treated, the more the virus can progress, the more likely it is that you can be sick, and the more you may be at risk for some of the other complications,” Goldman said.
PinnacleHealth has several REACCH clinics where they offer free and confidential HIV testing.