New York State has more diagnosed cases of HIV and AIDS than any other state in the country. And Oneida County ranks 4th among the most diagnosed counties outside of New York City. In honor of World AIDS Days Eyewitness News spent some time at AIDS Community Resources in Utica, where we had the opportunity to speak with one person who has been living with the virus for 15 years.
"I was terrified I went home and held onto a rock for months." Steven Kernan was diagnosed with AIDS in 1996. "It was terribly scary because people were dying all over the place." Mr. Kernan says he used to have to take about 18 pills a day. "I remember I used to take the pills and I would throw them up and count them and take them again because I wanted to live."
Mr. Kernan said he endured six long years of painful side effects from the medication. But he says living with the virus today isn't what it was when he was first diagnosed. He says the drugs are much better, he has to take less of them, and the side effects don't get in the way of one's daily routine like they used to.
Kernan says now, he feels good. He says now, if you get tested and find out that you're HIV positive early on, you can live a normal and productive life.
Mr. Kernan says he reached out to ACR years ago for guidance, and recommends that others do the same. ACR provides prevention, education, and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS to nine counties in New York. They have prevention and support services for all ages and provide medical transportation, emergency housing and financial assistance, among many other services. For more information on what ACR can do, you can visit: