Even though it's not making headlines like it was in the 1980's, HIV is still a topic that many don't want to talk about.
Here at home, experts say being diagnosed with HIV and taking an active role in your physical and mental health are two different things.
Of the 120 people our local AIDS Response Effort works with, only 8 to 10 of them chose to participate in a support group.
Everyone in the support group at the A.R.E. in Winchester has a different story about receiving their diagnosis.
Jim Walker says, "I received my diagnosis in January of 2004. I was in a recovery retreat for substance abuse."
Bill Taylor tells TV3, "I learned I was HIV positive in 1986. I was one of the first people that the military tested. I was in the U.S. Army and I was stationed in Panama, Central America.
Toby Austin found out in 1994 while he was living in Los Angeles. He says, "I thought I had food poisoning. I went in and my doctor said, 'how long have you been HIV positive?'"
One thing they do have in common is their sexual orientation. Everyone in the support group is gay. They have some theories on why other groups stay away.
Taylor says, "I think still the stigma about it being a gay disease or I'm going to catch it by looking at you, or touching you, or kissing you or things that really don't transmit the disease."
Austin says, "I think in some respects, being gay is a little more accepted having HIV than being heterosexual."
Looking at a break down of the active A.R.E. client base, you can see the people coming to the support group is not an accurate representation of who they serve.
In fact, more than 50 percent of the clients contracted HIV from a partner of the opposite sex and 30 percent of their clients are women.
Executive Director, John Nagley, tells TV3, "We've tried to promote support groups with females in our community ... and have had very little response."
One woman who hopes to change that is Martha. She is a community health worker for the A.R.E. who says she can encourage people, because she's been through it.
She says, "I do what I do because I want to give back to the community. I want to help people be able to find support and be able to love themselves again and just be able to live again because they can. This is not a death sentence and it doesn't have to stop your life."
She says there is a stigma in her native Africa but it's different from what she saw when she moved to Northern Virginia.
Martha says, "The stigma here is really really high. And people fear discrimination. People fear losing their jobs and people just fear rejection."
That is the reason Martha did not want us to use her last name. She doesn't want her family to be discriminated against, because of her diagnosis.
She says she's living proof that you can be HIV positive, not hide your status, and be happy.
Her husband, who she points out married her knowing she had HIV, and her two young children are all HIV negative.
"You can learn how to love yourself first and then learn how to share with others and people will support you, if you find the right people to support you."
Back at the support group, there is disappointment that we haven't come farther, but still a positive outlook.
Nagley says, "A lot of folks have gotten very well adjusted with the diagnosis and they want to remind people that it does not define who they are. This is one aspect of their life."