Local and Community News
South Carolina: Salons, Churches Reach Out to Educate
June 27, 2003
Beauty salons and barbershops long have been places where community issues are debated and information is exchanged. So it is only natural that black salons in South Carolina's Lowcountry are being asked to join an HIV/AIDS prevention program called Heads Up for Shop Talk.Adapted from:
Blacks, who make up 30 percent of South Carolina's population, account for 75 percent of its HIV/AIDS cases. Tralane Mason, owner of Shear Beauty in West Ashley, sometimes asks patrons if they have been tested for HIV. Most say no. They also tell her that they do not want to know if they have become infected with the virus. Not only do many of her customers -- most of them in their 20s, 30s, and 40s -- not recognize there is an HIV/AIDS epidemic among blacks in the area, some still erroneously believe it is a gay person's disease.
At Smitty's Super 7 Barber Shop in North Charleston, sex is frequently a topic of conversation, said Smitty, the owner. He sometimes informs patrons of the program, but he takes a more laid-back approach and does not always jump in if the subject of AIDS comes up. Although he says blacks are not practicing safe sex, he thinks the number of those who are is increasing slowly. Men come into his shop for the free condoms and often leave donations in return -- a sign that they support the effort.
Aaron Harvey of the Trident HIV Prevention Collaboration, made up of local organizations interested in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, distributes the condoms for the program. The collaboration also has HIV/AIDS peer educators working on Charleston's East Side. Peer educators stop residents on the street, tell them there is an HIV epidemic in the area, and ask if they have been tested for the virus, Harvey said. They have stopped and offered condoms and HIV/AIDS literature to more than 1,000 people.
Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)
06.23.03; Wevonneda Minis