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Group: 11,000 Arizonans living with HIV or AIDS

From left, Angela Vick and Julieta Giner hug before releasing balloons to mark World AIDS Day on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 in Durham, N.C. Vick, a motivational speaker, has been HIV-positive for nearly eight years. "It's important to stop the stigma," Vick said. (Christine T. Nguyen/The Herald-Sun via AP)

PHOENIX — About 11,000 Arizonans are living with HIV or AIDS, a group representative said on Tuesday, which is recognized as World AIDS Day.

While Kit Kloeckl, executive director of the Phoenix-based Aunt Rita’s Foundation, said about 3,000 of those are unaware they have either disease, she said living with a diagnosis is getting easier.

“Numerous medications have been combined in one pill,” he said. “The ability to deal with and tolerate that one pill has certainly increased.”

The medicine can be expensive. Kloeckl said it can cost around $3,000 per month. However, those affected are living longer and Kloeckl said HIV and AIDS has become a forgotten disease.

“If we don’t talk about and we don’t bring it back to the forefront, we’re going to have a generation of young people that are going to be contracting the disease,” he said.

Kloeckl said Aunt Rita’s Foundation works to increase awareness about HIV and AIDS and help those living with the disease. He said anyone who thinks they might have been exposed to HIV should get tested.

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