I Am Amazed
This article best describes Carmen Anthony Sacco and his mission: December 31, 2009, Fox 21, Colorado Connection COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Anthony Sacco found out he was HIV positive in 2001. 'I noticed I was getting sick and ended up in the hospital for a while,' said Sacco. He only had five T-cells and 390 million copies of HIV. 'They said I only had six months to live, but I said I wasn't ready yet,' remembered Sacco. It took him a couple of years to recuperate and build his body back up. The experience woke Sacco up to the routine of his life before getting sick and inspired him to enrich the quality of it after. 'When you find yourself at that point of death you kind of say, 'OK, well I've got to change my ways.' Before that it was 'Who cares? I'm going to go to work, come home, go to sleep, wake up [the] next day, go back to work.'' Sarah Sacco found out she was HIV positive in 2003. 'I was 23 years old. I just graduated from college and had been traveling the world. [I was] on top of everything going to take on life and then I was devastated when I got the news,' explained Sarah Sacco. Prior to learning she was infected, Sarah had spent a semester studying in Africa and saw the terrible untreated reality of being in the middle of an epidemic where people were dying. 'I held AIDS babies dying in my arms. Went to multiple funerals most weekends,' remembered Sarah Sacco. It was after she returned that she decided to get tested for HIV even though she was not considered a part of the 'at risk' group. Fear, guilt and sadness all streamed through Sarah Sacco when she received her results. 'I didn't think I'd ever find someone who'd love me. I didn't think I'd be alive in five years, let a lone have a family,' she remembered. A Love Story But six years later Sarah Sacco is still alive, doing well, and has a family. She and Anthony met in their Southern Colorado AIDS Project (S-CAP) support group. Sarah still remembers the day she first saw Anthony. 'I saw him from across the room he was wearing his beret cap. He just had this peace about him when I met him, which was part of the intrigue,' said Sarah. 'We were able to talk about our experiences and able to help each other through and be supportive. That's a big thing is being supportive of one another,' explained Anthony. Eventually the two fell in love and got married. Ironically, a disease which traditionally has isolated and ostracized many is what brought Sarah and Anthony together. But not everyone is this lucky, despite the advances in medicine and research. The stigma of HIV and AIDS still hasn't been erased from the public. Living With HIV 'I have about 80clients and the majority have real fears of isolation, losing jobs, housing relationships and family,' explained Kelly DeMuth, a medical case manager at S-CAP. 'You don't always know what you're going to get when you tell people you have HIV. People don't always understand. They have ideas of what kind of person you are or what your life story must be like,' offered Sarah Sacco. Finding S-CAP not only helped Sarah and Anthony find each other but helped them find hope. 'I met people who were alive after 20-some years who were taking care of themselves and doing well,' said Sarah. 'HIV has really changed a lot in the last 14 years or so,' explained Dr. Robert Weber, an infectious disease physician. 'In 1995 multi-drug therapy started to become available and more common. [As a result] the death rate and incidences of AIDS has gone way down,' added Weber. It's decreased about 80 percent, to be exact. While the availability of better medicines in the U.S. has increased the longevity of life, it's also increased the quality of life. 'I want to show people you can live and live a healthy life and you don't just pack your dreams up in a suitcase and put them in a closet because you have AIDS or HIV,' said Anthony Sacco. A Baby Nine months ago Sarah and Anthony's biggest dream came true when Sarah gave birth to Abigail 'Abby' Sacco. 'We had been thinking about either fostering or adopting a child with HIV,' said Sarah. But while they were praying about what to do they found out they were pregnant. 'At first I was pretty scared, I broke down crying, but I was determined I was going to be as healthy as I could,' remembered Sarah. In the last decade the odds of a mother infecting her baby with HIV during birth have dramatically been reduced again because of newly available medicines. 'We can now reduce that rate 70 percent over what was before medicines were given to pregnant mothers,' explained Dr. Weber. Recent research just decreased the chances of a passing HIV along to a baby from 1-in-100 to 1-in-2,000, which is pretty good,' said Sarah, 'but the mother has to be really good about taking care of herself and taking her medications in the process.' At 9-months old, Abby is by all tests HIV-negative. For Sarah her new life now holds everything that just six years ago seemed out of reach. 'I expect to be able to raise her and I may even get to hold a grandbaby in my arms,' smiled Sarah. Although medical advances have significantly improved the treatment available, prevention is still the best tool to fight HIV and AIDS. Money donated through the GIVE! Campaign will go to provide HIV test kids and controls. Donations for S-CAP can also be received after the GIVE! Campaign ends directly through S-CAP's website. Quick Facts: * Ninety-five percent of new HIV infections come from people who don't know they're infected * One in 4 people don't know they're HIV positive * At the end of 2006, the CDC estimates 1.1 million people were living diagnosed or undiagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the United States. * Those who find out early -- through regular testing -- that they are infected with HIV extend the time before contracting AIDS from 8 years to 20 years.