While HIV breakthrough renews patients' hope, experts encourage testing

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Tuesday's announcement at UNMC is already creating buzz for local organizations who work with HIV patients.

The major medical breakthrough in HIV treatments has given many a new outlook.

"If they can ultimately cure this in, you know, however long that may take — but if it's out there, it gives them hope," said Dr. Leah Casanave with the Douglas County Health Department.

The Nebraska Aids Project locally serves about 500 people dealing with HIV and AIDS. They say that while the possibility of a new treatment gives those with the virus optimism for the future, they also want people to remember those patients are battling every day.

"It's still here," said Brent Koster with NAP. "It's still something that we work on every single day. There's hundreds of people's lives who are affected by it, and it's wonderful that we have this wonderful opportunity to overcome it here."

Officials say it's still important to get tested. So far this year, they've given more than 1,000 tests just in Douglas County. But the health department said they've seen a decrease in the number of people testing positive for HIV, and officials say the number has been cut in half over the past decade.

"We actually have a point-of-care test that takes about 15-20 minutes, and it's a simple prick of the finger," Koster said. "And if that does show up reactive, we'll do a blood draw, and that usually takes three to five days for results."

There's also a test available that takes 60 seconds for a person to know whether they're HIV reactive.