FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — According to the Center for Disease Control, Northwest Arkansas has the second highest population of those living with HIV, or AIDS, in the state.

In certain cases, especially those who perceive that their risk factors are low, the news of an infection can be even more shocking.

One Northwest Arkansas woman, who has asked not to be identified, stated she was almost suicidal when she found out her diagnosis, which came after donating blood eleven years ago.

Being 49 years old and married, the disease never seemed like a possibility. Once she received the news, she discovered that her husband had been cheating on her.

“I think everybody needs to be checked, and I think they also need to use protection, even if you’re married.” She told reporters.

Dr. Stephen Hennigan, an infectious disease specialist, says that there is a large group of people who are undiagnosed, and many of them are older. In the last few months at his Fayetteville clinic, six women over the age of 50 have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Some married, some widowed or divorced.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over 50 account for almost as many diagnoses as those in the 25-29 year old range. They have the same risks as any other age group, but often aren’t as educated about risks, which could cost them their life.

Although advances in treatment mean HIV is no longer considered a death sentence if treated in time, it’s a different story if you’re diagnosed late in the disease. “Those people who come in with advanced infection, it’s much harder to bring their immune system back with medicines.” Continued Dr. Hennigan.

He stated that typically HIV will manifest a flu-like symptoms within a month, but if medical attention is not sought, the disease will go dormant for up to 8-10 years until it becomes an extreme sickness that is difficult to treat.

Dr. Hennigan stressed the importance of getting tested, “Those who are afraid, who are unwilling to get tested, often pay such an awful price.”