GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As HIV once again makes national headlines with actor Charlie Sheen’s recent admission that he’s HIV-positive, doctors at a Grand Rapids clinic say the disease has changed drastically over the past 25 years.
Dr. David Baumgartner, who works at the Mercy Health Infectious Disease McAuley Program, was part of the clinic that opened its doors in the 90s.
Since then, the clinic has grown into the largest HIV clinic on the west side of the state.
It just recently marked a milestone of 25 years of Ryan White grant funding.
Baumgartner said while treatment and outcomes have grown significantly for HIV, it’s fallen out of the headlines for the most part and it’s still on the rise. Baumgartner said they still get about 80 to 90 new patients every year, showing HIV is not going away.
“Our current case load is a little shy of a thousand patients of people who are living in this region with HIV, not just in Grand Rapids and Kent County but we draw from all of West Michigan,” Baumgartner said. “You know it’s real, it’s out there.”
Baumgartner stresses education and early detection.
The Kent County Health Department does offer free anonymous HIV testing.