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'It Only Takes One Mistake': HIV, STD Rates Rose During Pandemic In Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- As COVID-19 cases decline, healthcare professionals are worried about a different surge.

National data shows HIV and STD cases rose during the pandemic, including in Sacramento County.

"Eighteen-to-24-year-olds throughout the United States is where we're seeing the biggest jump for new infection for HIV and we see exactly that happening in Sacramento," said Jacob Bradley-Rowe, the executive director of Sunburst Projects.

The nonprofit works closely with people affected by HIV and AIDs by offering supportive services with a goal to prevent infections altogether. 

Last fall, Sacramento County offered a $1 million grant to launch a campaign and test site following the disturbing statistics, primarily in Black and Latino men. 

"It only takes one mistake," said Johnathan Cameron. He was diagnosed with HIV nearly 20 years ago.

At first, Cameron says the hardest part about the revelation was his worry of disappointing his family. His father comes from a religious Southern background while his mother is a Pacific Islander.

"They were raised that AIDS – to them there was no HIV – AIDS and it was an automatic death sentence," he said.

Treatments have evolved since Cameron's diagnosis with some leading to the virus being undetectable, therefore intransmissible.

The HIV test is done by a finger prick and results come back in 20 minutes.

The group says it's trying to chase the one out of seven who doesn't know they're infected and spreading HIV.

No appointments or identifications are necessary for the free tests. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cameron believes the clinic and campaign are breaking down barriers.

"We're not asking you to announce to the world," he said. "We're asking you to come inside and understand your system and body."

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