More than one million Americans have HIV. Positive Connections in Topeka provides services for people with HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and Hepatitis C.
Positive Connections client William Blakley remembers the day he found out he contracted HIV.
“My test results came back positive and the world just stopped,” he said.
He was overwhelmed by the cost of the medicine he needs to stay healthy.
“The co-pay was going to be about $3,200 a month,” Blakley said.
That’s were Positive Connections stepped in to help.
“If I didn’t have the case management care that I have here, and the Ryan White, there’s no way that I could afford it,” he said.
Blakley is enrolled in the federal Ryan White Program which covers people who can’t get insurance.
Positive Connections Executive Director Debbie Guilbualt said they help people get coverage through their case management services.
“Our biggest thing is to make sure people have access to care,” she said.
With his medication, Blakley can keep his hiv from developing into AIDS. People who stick to their treatment plan can even lower their risk of spreading HIV.
Guilbault said it they can keep their viral load at an undetectable level, “they have very little to no risk of transmitting HIV to other people.”
Guilbault said the disease impacts all kinds of people.
“As I’ve gotten to know the people we’re helping, it’s more and more important to me people understand this is a disease that affect everyone,” she said.
She encourages most sexually active people to get tested.
“Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, if you’ve had a partner in the past but is not your current partner it’s a good idea,” Guilbault.
She said it’s never to early to start talking to your kids about sex. She encourages parents to share their values with their kids as well as teaching them about the dangers of sexually transimitted diseases.
“Letting them know about what precautions they can take to keep themselves safe when they do become sexually active,” she said.
With the help of his case manager at Positive Connections , Blakley said he doesn’t have to worry about his HIV anymore.
“It doesn’t end your life, I’m going to live just as old as anybody else,” he said.
Positive Connections provides free tests for HIV, Hepatitis C and Syphilis, and free case management services. It also has a food bank for clients in need to ensure they get enough protein to stay healthy.
The Positive Connections website has more information about their services, how people can donate and a map of their free condum distribution sites.