Michael Deeb says his world was turned upside down after learning of his positive status two years ago.
“You know, 23-years-old, I just moved back from New York City and then bam I got the whole you know you are HIV positive,” Deeb told 7 Eyewitness News. “It’s almost like post-traumatic stress, really. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal.”
After taking several months to research and accept his new status, Deeb says he made it his mission to educate others living with the disease. He now works with several local and state-wide organizations talking about the importance of safe sex, HIV testing, and treatment.
“It’s really important especially for teenagers to know so they can catch it in the early stages.”
And a proposal announced Thursday by Governor Andrew Cuomo echoes Deeb’s sentiments. Building on his campaign to end AIDS in New York State by 2020, the Governor’s proposal would allow teens living with HIV to receive treatment without parental consent.
It would also allow those teens to access preventive services.
Currently under New York state law, minors cannot grant medical consent.
Decades ago the rule was changed to include the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, but HIV remains off of the list of conditions still requiring consent.
Deeb says getting medical care is imperative for anyone living with the disease but he says stigma stemming from the early days of the AIDS epidemic still resonate with some -- which is why he says the proposed law is a double edged sword.
“I mean if that’s what it’s going to take to get them into to treatment you do what you have to do to get healthy.”
The 25-year-old says the support he received from family members was critical in tackling the emotional gravity of the disease. “They’re still a child so the parent is still responsible for them,” Deeb said. “When I got diagnosed I was a mess I needed to be around my family.”
He says although the proposed law could be seen as controversial he believes the sheer notion is a positive step toward lowering the number of new HIV and AIDS cases in New York.
“I’m very hopeful you know I’m very hopeful we make a lot of progression every single day and I only hope to see it go further and reach our goal by 2020.”