"I didn't know my partner had HIV. I didn't know how this happened to me," said Dr. Venkat Minnaganti with Decatur Memorial hospital as he described what he often heard from his patients.
HIV is a disease many know about but may not know they have it. December is AIDS Awareness Month and local medical experts said that HIV is an infectious disease they see right here in Central Illinois.
For 12 years Dr. Minnaganti has been treating people with HIV at DMH. Today he sees close to one hundred patients and said that number shouldn't be that high.
"People do not die of HIV anymore as long as their compliant with treatment," he said.
It's the people who are unaware of the problem who are risks to themselves and others.
"We see males having sex with males which is one of the predominant risk factors for HIV," Dr. Minnaganti explained.
In fact, the last two cases reported to the Macon County Health Department were both men having sex with men.
"We actually have had six new cases of it reported in 2013 in Macon County," according to Alissa Diericx with the Macon County Health Department.
Six new cases of HIV, but the Macon County Health Department warned there could be more people out there with the virus, but they just don't know they have it.
"It's always important to be very, very, very careful and to definitely get tested if you think you may have HIV," Diericx said.
Because HIV can be a debilitating disease.
"It shuts off all of your system," Dr. Minnaganti explained. "You have kidney problems, you can have liver problems, you can have lung problems. You have different kind of infections that surface when HIV is in the background."
But with the right treatment, HIV is not a death sentence.
The Macon County Health Department offers testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It's completely anonymous and confidential.
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