World AIDS Day teaches awareness - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

World AIDS Day teaches awareness

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December 1, 2006

Albany - - Southwest Georgia ranks number four out of 18 health districts in the state with the highest number of HIV and AIDS Cases.

All over the world Friday, people paused to reflect on those battling HIV and those who have died from AIDS.

Many people living with the disease don't know it - putting them at risk of infecting others. 

"Keep the promise. Stop AIDS," students at Albany State University shouted as they marched through campus.

"Basically just being on a college campus knowing exactly what goes on with people our own age and the risk of AIDS," made Junior Noyoka Davis want to get involved.

According to Communicable Disease Specialist, John Hopkins, young people 14 to 24 years of age are the new faces of this deadly disease worldwide.

"My concern is that at this point, if we don't get ahead of this disease, it's going to kill off that generation. That's the generation where actually our future is," he says.

Hopkins says people are spreading the virus and it's not always intentional.

"Not knowing is the worst thing. If you don't know you go out there and spread it on. That's how people spread it and keep spreading it because they don't know," says Senior Kamitra Bargi. 

That's why ASU students are getting out the message it's important to know your status.

"Cornell (University) did a study that said it would take $900,000,000 to test everyone in this country. Based upon the census, that's about $3.00 per person. I think we need to get that done," Hopkins says.

He adds if a person tests positive, it's not a death sentence anymore.

"HIV doesn't kill you."

With breakthrough treatment, an HIV positive person can live a normal life. If the virus is left untreated, either because a person doesn't have access to medicine or because they don't know they have it, that's when it turns into AIDS.

These students feel their peers need to add an extra memo to their student planners.

"You shouldn't be ashamed of getting tested? Because were getting tested today," Davis says.

They're getting tested so they can keep their promise and help stop AIDS. 

Hopkins says African-Americans make up 52 % of new HIV cases. 70 % of those new cases are African-American women.

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