On April 10th, Piedmont Care will host a special HIV testing day to coincide with National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
The awareness day is a project of Advocates for Youth: Rights. Respect. Responsibility. The organization encourages young people to get tested so they will not only know their HIV status but also educate themselves on the impact of HIV/AIDS on their age group. This day also emphasizes the work of youth across the country to bring awareness to the continuing fight against HIV/AIDS.
The HIV epidemic, which peaked in the 80s, has not been covered as extensively in the media as today’s youth have come of age. Their lack of knowledge with which to protect themselves is alarming and can be seen in statistics. Youth aged 18-24 have the highest rate of undiagnosed HIV of any age group (www.cdc.org). Between 2005 and 2014, people aged 15-24 had the largest increase in the rate of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS in S.C. (SC DHEC HIV/AIDS Epi Profile, 2015).
Education and awareness are crucial steps in promoting safe sex practices and stressing the importance of getting tested for HIV, however, there is a multitude of barriers to delivering this information. Sex is already considered by many to be a “taboo” subject, and especially so when it involves youth. Adding to this reluctance to tackle the issue are the additional topics which come into play when discussing the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Homosexuality and drug use also need to be addressed for an individual to fully understand what puts them at risk of contracting the virus.
Recent data released by the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy showed that birth rates had fallen but rates for STDs/STIs remained high, with the rate of HIV/AIDS among teenagers increasing (www.goupstate.com Feb. 2017). These statistics show that while contraception is being addressed, more education on the aforementioned topics is needed in addition to discussing the importance of condoms and other barrier methods to protect against disease, especially HIV/AIDS.
Piedmont Care is a non-profit providing case management to people living with HIV/AIDS in Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union Counties. Through our prevention program, we offer free HIV testing, free condoms, and other barrier methods and education on protection from STDs/STIs and HIV/AIDS. Please join us on April 10th – or anytime throughout the year – to get tested, know your status, and educate yourselves and others on the impact of HIV/AIDS, not only on youth but all age groups.
Blog written by the courtesy of Loree Bishop with Piedmont Care