Over 18,000 people statewide are diagnosed with HIV - and over 5,000 cases are reported in Jefferson County.
That's not just a statistic for Janet Johnson. For her, it's personal.
"I was diagnosed with HIV in Atlanta, Georgia - Fulton Co. Health Department in October of 1985," Janet Johnson, said.
Her diagnosis changed - not only how other people saw her but how she thought about herself.
"Disbelief, anger, fear of death, give up," Johnson said.
She's one of over 18,000 cases in the state of Alabama- most of whom are homosexual men or young African American men - a number rising each year.
Birmingham Aids Outreach offers help through food boxes, clothing, and counseling. The director tells us, because of the big increase in cases, they need support.
"People needing more help with medications, more help with transportation, help with food," Karen Musgrove, Birmingham AIDS Outreach said. "Not only are our numbers increasing, but the need for services are increasing."
"We can see that even by going in chat rooms and have conversations with people, how easy it is for people to meet each other and possibly be exposed to HIV," Kelly Ross-Davis, Education Director, UAB 1917 Clinic said.
At UAB, the 1917 Clinic helps meet their medical needs.
"Our numbers do continue to grow," Davis said. "We stay dedicated to the mission of providing that compassionate care and using innovative strategies to help people."
Johnson says her mission now is to help others who are going through the same disease.
"I try to find people not in care, who are nearly diagnosed,to let them know that they do have a friend," Johnson said.
UAB's 1917 Clinic offers free testing. Here is a link to their information: http://www.uab.edu/1917clinic/
Here is a link to Birmingham AIDS Outreach information: http://www.birminghamaidsoutreach.org/
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