Virginia: Teen AIDS Charity Ready to Fight City

Several weeks after the Virginia Beach, Va., mayor commended Teen AIDS Peer Corps in a Youth AIDS Prevention Day proclamation as a leader in promoting testing and educating Hampton Roads teens, city officials now are concerned about the local nonprofit's testing methods and are reconsidering their decision to use this group.

An April Mount Trashmore fundraiser, which attracted 1,000 people, included an HIV testing event hosted by Teen AIDS Peer Corps. Virginia Beach supported the event but questioned the group's decision to read out test results publicly. Dr. John Chittick, the group's founder, explained that his group was attempting to end the stigma and shame that surround AIDS and testing. He told the gathering that his group would return in May to provide more testing. At the next testing session, park security staff was also present. Chittick revealed to that Teen AIDS Peer Corps was informed that they could not film or publicly test youth. A city attorney declined to speak with until after they met with Chittick on June 5.

Chittick said that the city had e-mailed questions to him. requested that he provide answers. WAVY first commented on the question of how Chittick's group gets children to take part in public testing and results announcement. shared that in their observation of the group, WAVY saw volunteers asking peers if they wanted to learn more about HIV/AIDS; only those who agreed were provided information and asked if they would like to be tested. Chittick answered no to the question asking if Teen AIDS Peer Corps obtained parental consent for testing, saying, "The United States government says anybody 17 or older can buy a test without any permission from anybody." Chittick answered no to the question about Teen AIDS Peer Corps attempting to contact a child's parents if he or she tested positive. When asked how his group handled an adverse reaction to a positive HIV test, he replied that Teen AIDS Peer Corps took the teen to a hospital or clinic, if the teen wished. He added, "In two cases that we had positive results, the teens did not want us to take them."