HIV/AIDS Still on the Rise in Shelby County

HIV/AIDS Still on the Rise in Shelby County

Nearly 7,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in Shelby County.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Nearly 7,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in Shelby County, according to the latest numbers from the Shelby County Health Department from 2011. The group most affected is African Americans, especially gay men.

The health department says cases have gone up 5% from 2010 to 2011. There were 347 news cases, bringing the total to 6,699 people infected with HIV or AIDS. While males still represent over 70% of all newly diagnosed HIV infections in 2011, females reported an increase that year too.

"I go to the doctor every 3 months," said the founder and executive director of The Red Door Foundation, Marvell Terry.

Terry is HIV positive. He's been living with the deadly disease for more than 7 years.

"HIV is a disease that can be managed like diabetes," he said.

Now he's on a mission: educate people on how to prevent the spread of HIV.

"Being in the Bible belt we shy away from certain issues and one of those issues is sexuality that relates to HIV and AIDS. How can we move forward? We have to continue to participate in a healthy dialogue," said Terry.

It's one of the reasons why he started the non-profit group, The Red Door Foundation.
He wants to stop the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Mid-South, especially within the gay African American community.

"We know that HIV is a health crisis among this population so we put a series of events to discuss those social and structural determinants of HIV within that community," he stated.

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center provides free HIV testing Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Getting tested and communicating with your partner are just a few things that can make a big difference in someone's life.

"Someone not vocalizing to use a condom or not asking a person's status or assuming things when you go into a sexual setting can really put you at risk of getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections," said the center's HIV Program Director Martavius Hampton.

Thursday kicks off a series of HIV awareness programs, from documentaries to workshops, and many of them are free. If you want the complete list of activities that go through the weekend, go to Red Door's website at trdfmemphis.com.
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