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The fact that he has been HIV-positive since birth is not something 16-year-old Dillon Card is shy about telling people. In fact, this outgoing teen has become a well-spoken advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, both close to home in Youngtown, Ariz., and throughout the southwestern United States.
For the first few years of Dillon’s life, medical treatment offered little hope for a child with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Then, when Dillon was 5 years old, a ray of hope appeared when Phoenix Children’s Hospital opened the Bill Holt Infectious Disease Clinic, the first pediatric clinic in Arizona for children with HIV/AIDS.
“There wasn’t anybody who knew what to do with him,” said Dillon’s dad Chris about the difficult years before they had the HIV/AIDS services of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “Now I feel like there’s 20 lifeguards asking what I need.”
Thanks to this specialized clinic and medications that prevent the HIV virus from replicating inside his body, Dillon’s disease is well under control. Today he leads the life of a normal teenager, playing basketball and hockey and dreaming big about becoming a great video game designer someday.