Local and Community News
New Jersey AIDS Forum Presents Mixed Report
March 14, 2003
While HIV/AIDS cases have stabilized in some population segments, for unknown reasons they are increasing among blacks and Hispanics. The second annual community forum on "Talking Openly with Neighbors: AIDS and the Black Community" drew nearly 200 people Saturday at Plainfield High School in Bridgewater, N.J. Sponsored by the Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, the forum was one of many HIV/AIDS education events the national sorority held around the world.Adapted from:
The message of experts, from doctors to teen peer counselors, was that HIV/AIDS can be prevented. "It's like a stray bullet, it will hit anyone in its way," said Melissa Haithcox of the Rutgers University HIV Prevention Initiative, one of five panelists who spoke. "The new trend is more and more African-American women are getting infected."
Panelists agreed that one problem is that people infected with HIV/AIDS may not get the health care or counseling they need because of the stigma of the disease. To combat that, community members can reach out to them as individuals to get them help. Speakers also challenged the community to lobby politicians for more education about HIV/AIDS and more money to prevent its spread. "Everyone here today is an HIV prevention worker and you are charged with telling your friends and your loved ones how to prevent HIV," said Charles Jones, director of the Union County HIV Consortium.
A separate "Teen Talk" forum was held elsewhere in the school, led by Franklin Teen PEP (Peer Education Program) and Dr. Wanda Edwards, who lives in New Brunswick and works at New York's Harlem Hospital. About 60 teenagers asked questions and listened to frank answers.
Edwards told the teens that abstinence is the best form of protection against HIV, but protection should be used if they are going have any kind of sex.
Courier News (Bridgewater, N.J.)
03.09.03; Larry Higgs
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