August 22, 2011
Around 300 people attended this year's "A Call to Women of Color" HIV/AIDS awareness event, held Aug. 13 in Rochester.
Coordinator Jackie Dozier started the program six years ago as a way for females ages 13-45 to discuss issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Though women of any age are encouraged to attend, the focus this year was on younger participants, according to conference sponsor AIDS Care.
The goal was to send a message to young women that self-esteem and good decision-making are at the core of sexual health. Young volunteers from the Determined Divas program distributed surveys soliciting participants' feedback.
"I've been trying to ask everyone what they're taking away from this, and for many of them, it's an understanding of how they can better take care of themselves and their bodies," said Dozier. "It's something they can control."
In Monroe County in 2010, nearly half the new HIV cases were among people age 25 and under, and 7 percent were among youths ages 13-19. Surveys of students in the City School District indicate that 58 percent of ninth- through 12th-graders are sexually active, with around 21 percent of these youths reporting having had at least four partners.
For more information on AIDS Care, visit www.acrochester.org.