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U.S. News

Tennessee: 25 Years Later, Misconceptions Persist About HIV/AIDS

December 28, 2006

Since CDC first reported AIDS cases 25 years ago, misconceptions still surround the disease in Tennessee. "AIDS goes home with businessmen to their wives; wives bring it home to their husbands," said Sister Adamarie Kost, director of The Home Place, a Chattanooga residence for HIV patients. "It's not a gay disease anymore."

In Hamilton County last year, 51 percent of all reported HIV cases were African American, said Tom Rucci, county health department AIDS outreach coordinator. HIV/AIDS is also growing among Hispanics, women and children. Rucci said the county had only about 40 HIV/AIDS cases in 1988. Currently, the number is about 1,200 and growing.

Rucci said the increase could relate to a misconception about the drugs used to treat HIV, which help people live longer, healthier lives. "We're seeing people who think there's a cure for AIDS going back to old risky behaviors," he said. "The drugs … don't keep you from infecting others."

Misconceptions about HIV transmission persist as well. "[Students] still think you can get HIV from mosquitoes or from sitting on a toilet seat," said Sheila Humphries of Channels of Love, which sends HIV/AIDS speakers to schools.

Sister Kost said when she was exploring sites for The Home Place, people in some neighborhoods voiced unfounded fears about HIV/AIDS. "A nurse … was afraid that flies from our building could transfer the disease," she said. "There is still a lot of ignorance about the disease."

Back to other news for December 28, 2006

Adapted from:
Associated Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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