Seattle at forefront of HIV fight as many celebrate World Aids Day

SEATTLE - Tuesday is World Aids Day and Seattle is now at the forefront of the fight to end the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

In the Gay City offices on Capitol Hill, the wellness clinic offers rapid result HIV testing, six days a week. Lu de Soncoeur is the first volunteer many people see.

"I'm happy they're getting tested. They're coming in here, taking responsibility for it, whatever the outcome, they're knowing their status. To me, I honor that," he said.

Lu knows how emotional it can be. He found out he was HIV positive in 1994 and at the time, doctors gave him less than ten years to live.

In its early days, University of Washington Medicine's Madison Clinic tracked daily HIV deaths on a board. Today, about 20% of the state's HIV patients are treated here, with few complications.

"It's an extremely easily managed disease. It's easier than having hypertension or caring for hypertension or diabetes. It's much simpler. You take a few pills, you see your doctor twice a year, that's it," said Dr. Robert Harrington

The latest breakthrough pill is a huge advance in prevention. PrEP keeps the virus from taking hold in someone who's HIV negative.

"New HIV infections are down 23% in Seattle, King County, which is phenomenal," said Fred Swanson with Gay City. "We also have some of the highest rates of people knowing their status. So 92% of gay men in King County know their HIV status, which is unheard of in other cities."

Today, thanks to medications, Lu's HIV is undetectable, and his life expectancy is as good as someone without the virus.
You can't find it in his blood, and you won't find the stress of HIV in his daily life.

"It's no longer a burden. It's no longer the thing that eats away at you," he said.

The city of Seattle recently approved money to start the process of creating an AIDS legacy memorial to honor the people who have died from the disease over the past three decades.
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