LAKE MARY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A candidate for Florida's 10th Congressional District revealed publicly on Thursday that he is HIV positive.
Bob Poe, a well-known entrepreneur and former chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, shared the secret he had kept for 18 years. "It's only when you have the fear and this stigma and the shame that causes you to hide away and not get treated or not get tested, that is when this disease can be dangerous," Poe told FOX 35.
Poe came forward about his HIV status in a video posted on his Facebook page. He said he was motivated to to do so after having a conversation with a woman on the campaign trail who revealed to him that she was HIV positive. "I shared with her the resources that she could get in the community where to go what to do, but I really just wanted to hug her and let her know that she wasn't alone and that I was also HIV."
Poe said he is in good health and only has to take one pill daily to control the virus. He wants others to know that it is possible to live a normal, healthy life, if treated properly. "It's a time that we rip off the mask, and deal with this issue very forthrightly with all the right information, so that people can get tested and they can get treated an live very productive lives."
Poe said it is business as usual and that the announcement will not change the campaign, but he hopes it will change the impact he can have on HIV awareness. "I think going to congress, and being HIV positive, I can lend a different voice and I can take this to a different level on conversation then has ever been done in the past," he said.
Florida's 10th Congressional District is in Central Florida and presently includes parts of western Orange County, most of Lake County, as well as a northern section of Polk County. It is represented by Republican incumbent Daniel Webster.
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