ASU students march to end AIDS -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ASU students march to end AIDS

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By Delivrine Registre - bio | email

December 1, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Chants to "keep the promise" echoed down Oglethorpe Boulevard as signs were held high to encourage all to wake up to a virus that has already killed millions.

"This can happen to anyone. This is not just a gay man's disease. And this is not just for white people. It can happen to anyone. Open your eyes," said ASU student,  Shalena Baker.

Dougherty and Thomas counties have the largest populations of people infected with HIV in Southwest Georgia.

"If you have high drug use in a community, high incarceration rates, also lack of early HIV treatment that all contributes to higher HIV rates," said Southwest Georgia Health District Director, Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

More than half of all new cases worldwide are among people under the age of 25. "We add on to it by acting like it doesn't exist," said Baker.

"They may not know their partners HIV status or they may not know their partner's previous behavior. So you have this sense of false security," said Dr. Grant. 

And that's why these students took their message to the courthouse steps. "I practice safe sex, and I try to make sure that those around me are doing the same," said Baker.

"A lot of what we can do starts with us. The ABC's of protecting yourself: Abstinence, Be faithful and Condoms," said Dr. Grant.

But the first step is to get tested and know your status to put an end to a deadly disease. There are more than 33-million people living with the virus worldwide. More than 25-million people have died of AIDS since 1981.