DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) When the world was introduced to HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, little was known about the deadly disease that would affect 33.3 million people worldwide by 2009.
On June 5, 1981 the Centers for Disease Control released its first report detailing what we now know as AIDS. Since then there have been many medical advancements in the treatment of the disease, and a diagnosis of HIV no longer carries the death sentence it once had.
45-year-old Andy Matthews is the epitome of vibrance and health. He is an avid biker and a businessman, but he is also living with HIV.
“I’m living life just as normal as anybody,” said the Dallas resident who contracted the disease from blood clotting factor he used to treat his hemophilia. Then, clotting factor was typically made from blood and plasma donations.
Matthews was a 21-year-old college student when he was diagnosed. During the 1980s, he and nearly 10,000 people with hemophilia were diagnosed with HIV because of a lack of testing for the virus in the blood supply.
“They told me I had this thing called HIV,” said Matthews. “They didn’t know what it was, they didn’t know much about it. It was a very scary time in my life, needless to say, I had to go back to college and tell nobody that I had this thing called HIV.”
Matthews said that he was witnessed the progression of medical developments used to treat his disease, and said he is in a “sweet spot” right now because the drugs are working and his immune system is healthy.
“You can have a very normal life – I’m married, I have a wonderful little boy – nothing is stopping me,” said Matthews. “I don’t let it hold me back – and even if I get sick, I still won’t.”