A story of survival on World AIDS Day - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

A story of survival on World AIDS Day

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Thursday is the 24th annual World AIDS Day. And with an estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, the day was a time to recognize the people struggling from this global epidemic.

In the Baystate, more than 9,000 people are living with the virus. And in Western Mass, Springfield and Holyoke both have high rates of HIV.

"I was young in my 30s, climbing my professional ladder and was diagnosed with AIDS, and had to go out on a medical disability," said Rob Quinn.

Quinn was diagnosed with HIV in 1993 and then with AIDS in 1999.

"It's been long and grueling at times, it's been an emotional roller coaster," said Quinn. "There's been a lot of healthcare challenges, a lot of hurdles to jump."

But after bouts with depression and drugs, Quinn is back on track. And 18 years after the initial diagnosis, he's doing better than ever.

"I'm like a whole person again, I have a purpose, I have a mission, I have a reason to live," said Quinn.

And that new outlook is based on his involvement with the Western Mass AIDS Foundation. Quinn says that having that support has helped him to get back on track.

"The message I want to get across is that there is hope. You can survive. You can thrive," said Quinn.

For those worried about their prognosis, medical treatments have come a long way since the days when Quinn was diagnosed.

"Back in 1993, things were much different than they are now. The Centers for Disease Control estimated that newly diagnosed people would live about seven years. Well, I'm here 18 years."

With an early diagnosis and proper medication, people with HIV can live normal lives.

"But now with the vast majority of cases, if people are treated, it is not fatal. We think of it as a chronic illness like high blood pressure or diabetes that patients take medications, take care of themselves, they can do very well," said the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Baystate Medical Daniel Skiest.

Copyright 2011 WSHM.  All rights reserved.

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