Rick Paquette never thought he would get HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Then in September 1984 his partner became very ill and his partner's doctor urged Rick to get a blood test. Two weeks later the blood test came back positive. "I went and drunk myself into a stupor, and at that time it was a certain death sentence so it was very, very hard to deal with," Rick says.
It took a year for Rick to summon the courage to tell his family. "My father just looked at me and nodded, my sister didn't speak to me for quite a long time and my brother I don't think he grasped what it all meant," Rick says.
Rick takes 7 pills a day for his HIV. He has been a patient at the Ruppert Health Center at the University of Toledo Medical Center for over 20 years. "I've got a fantastic doctor there and the nurses and staff are all very compassionate and welcoming," Rick says.
Rick credits a renewed faith in God for helping him deal with his HIV status. "I have found spirituality in the last ten years and as long as I can serve Him I am going to continue to be here," Rick says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control there are 34.2 million people worldwide who are HIV positive. Since the dawn of the epidemic 30 million people have succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses. 1.8 million deaths in 2010 were attributed to AIDS. The CDC estimates that at the end of 2009 in the United States there were 1,148,200 HIV positive people though 207,000 were unaware they were carrying the virus.