WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- We all have those nagging colds and infections, especially when we’re under stress. And Nicole Dye was under a lot of stress, seven years ago.
“My husband died in March of 2012,” Dye said. “Unrelated, that spring I had a sinus infection for, like, three months. I had to go on two rounds of antibiotics, it was very hard to get rid of. And then, the end of that summer I got the shingles.”
Dye never waits for answers – her way of coping is to do research and lots of it. What her research on her condition told her was a bit of a shock: she had HIV.
“Because, in my situation being a married, white female, that's the lowest risk group out there,” she said.
So, early in 2019, after being what the medical field calls the HIV virus being “undetectable” in her body, Dye went public with her diagnosis.
“The biggest reason, my biggest objective is to get people tested,” she said. “Just because you think you are safe doesn't mean you are.”
“We can find a regimen - an HIV regimen - for everyone that is side-effect free,” says Dr. Michael Morgan, of Novant Health in Winston-Salem. An HIV diagnosis, just a generation ago, was a death sentence. Now, patients can fairly easily get to the point where the virus is undetectable in their bodies which the medical research means, it is untransferable to others. That’s the state the medical field calls “U=U,” undetectable equals untransferable.
“If (someone is) on medications, they became undetectable which means they can't give it to anybody,” Dye said. “At first, I was scared that if I don't know I cut myself or something and my kids might come across it they might get the virus. But once I became undetectable, I don't have to worry about that anymore.”
Testing is that key and Morgan wants everyone to get tested as a routine practice.
“Testing shouldn't be based on risk factors,” Morgan said. “Almost all of us have had risk factors in the past, even if you don't know it. You may have and we should get off the stigma of who we are testing. Test everyone, that way we won't miss anyone.”
See more of Dye’s story and who Morgan credits with being a major factor in getting us to where HIV is a very treatable condition, in this edition of the Buckley Report.