World AIDS Day aims to clear misconceptions about HIV/AIDS

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 9:57 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The South has some of the highest rates of HIV diagnosis in the country. Organizations are pushing to bring outreach and prevention to the state of Alabama.

“HIV is here, and it is something that we should be aware of,” said Tommy Williams, a health worker at the UAB 1917 clinic, the largest HIV care center in the state. He says people might not know this area is heavily affected.

“Individuals who live in the southeastern region, especially the black belt, Bible Belt...there is a high prevalence of HIV infection in our communities, especially when it’s communities of color,” Williams said.

Anyssa Tyson’s job is working on prevention outreach and testing at the hub. She says many of the people she interacts with are battling being seen as an outsider.

“So many times, people deal with family not understanding that you can eat off the same plate. You can sit on the same toilet, you can sit on the couch, you can lick my face. Nothing’s gonna happen,” Tyson said. She has multiple friends and family members living with HIV.

“I do this work so that people come up or the future people don’t have to deal with the people that I know what they had to deal with,” Tyson explained. They say many people do not know the difference between HIV and AIDS. Most people with HIV in America do not develop AIDS.

“Most people today know that HIV isn’t a death sentence...If you take advantage of some of those biomedical interventions, that you can live a healthy life with HIV,” said Marvin Cole-Crum, Prevention Partnership Coordinator with AIDS Alabama. Thursday marked World AIDS Day, which is about more than just awareness.

“We observe in remembrance of those who have lost their lives early on in the epidemic,” Cole-Crum said. Knowing your status and getting tested is really important. You can also volunteer and help spread awareness.

“Feel free to reach out. We have several social media platforms. You also can pop to the physical address or give us a call,” Cole-Crum said.

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