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You Better Act Like You Know

Syracuse University hosts a showcase to help bring awareness about the spread of HIV/AIDS in the black community.

There are nearly 250,000 people in the United States who unknowingly have HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  And in the black community, those numbers are even higher.  The CDC estimates that in 2005, African-Americans accounted for nearly half of the new HIV/AIDS diagnoses within the 33 states that have had long-term HIV reporting.

In commemoration of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, several organizations from Syracuse University and the surrounding area teamed up to organize a showcase to help educate people on stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Some of those who attended the event have HIV. Some have AIDS. And some came to learn more about the virus that has significantly struck their community.

Jerena Barkins is one of the organizers of the event. She is the F.A.C.E.S. Program Director (Fighting AIDS/HIV through Case management Education and Support). She says the purpose of the event is to know that HIV is real and that it disproportionately affects the black community.  She said it is important to know how to get tested for the virus.

While there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS, the main message of the event was prevention.  Consequently, the importance of safe sex was reiterated to audience members. Organizers even had condoms for attendees to grab on their way out, one of which read, “Use a new condom each time you have sex, whether it’s anal, genital or oral.”

Austell Antoine discovered he had HIV after he went to donate blood to the Red Cross. He says he got it through unprotected sex.

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