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Kansas: Hope Street Tests Teens for HIV

March 16, 2009

Wichita's Hope Street Youth Development group hosted a sexual health information and HIV testing event on March 10 to mark National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is the first time Hope Street offered rapid HIV testing, which was administered by the Sedgwick County Health Department. Hope Street also distributed information from the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, Planned Parenthood, and the health department.

Some people might criticize Hope Street's event as promoting sex, said Jaya Escobar, the group's academic director. However, the organization is trying to educate youths who may choose not to remain abstinent, she said. "We're being irresponsible if we don't teach that in 2009," Escobar said. "You could die if you don't take care of yourself sexually."

People under age 24 account for 14 percent of the estimated 764 HIV/AIDS cases in the 15-county region that includes Sedgwick County, according to a June 2008 state Department of Health and Environment report. The department is seeing more women and youths testing HIV-positive, said William Lyons, its HIV/AIDS program director. "We want to test as many people as we can because we'd love to get them into care earlier and keep them alive a lot longer with the medicines we're having today," he said.

"There are people being diagnosed at such a young age, it just absolutely kills me," said Beth Tackitt, a disease intervention specialist with the county Health Department.

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
Wichita Eagle
03.11.2009; Christina M. Woods

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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