HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Near the end of his presentation on HIV/AIDs, the host stopped and acknowledged that the crowd seemed well informed.
“Yes, it’s good that you’re saying these things, but we’re seeing rates of infection rise,” Travis Love, 31, said. “We’re not doing better, and I want to know why.”
Love, of Atlantic City, led the presentation at Atlantic Cape Community College on Thursday as part of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
The day, the thirteenth annual, is designed to call attention to the need for testing and treatment in the black community.
In 2009, Atlantic County was identified as having one of the nation’s top 20 rates of HIV infection. Blacks, Hispanics and women were all identified as having higher-than-average infection rates.
Love and two others representatives from South Jersey AIDS Alliance, Jeff Lacey, 43, of Atlantic City, and Kory Turner, 25, of Ventnor, mixed slang and science, keeping the tone light as they talked about a something so serious.
The presentation started with about two dozen people answering simple questions about the transmission and spread of HIV. Most people knew for instance that yes, latex condoms can work to stop the spread and yes, it can be spread through needle drug use.
Love urged people get tested, saying that knowing one’s HIV status can help limit the spread of the disease, because “by the third month we’re not using condoms.”
“Maybe by the third date, if I take her to Red Lobster,” he joked.
He urged people to learn their status, saying newer medicines have allowed people with HIV/AIDS to live into their 70s.
Afterward, one of the attendees, Maggie Harrold, 19, of Hammonton, said she found the program informative and said greater education on the condition is needed.
Turner said it was a “beautiful event,” adding, “as an African-American, I think it’s important to spread the news.”
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