World Aids Day impacts people in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -Millions of people live with HIV and AIDS. Health advocates want to let people know it's preventable.

They say you should get tested. The number one reason people get the disease is through multiple sex partners, so they want people to take all the precautions they can.

The disease directly impacted one woman who lost her husband several years ago. Juliette Davis is in ministry at a local church. When she's not in the word here, she getting the word out to young people. Prevention is the best protection against HIV. Her motivation came after she lost her husband 20 years ago.

"It was very tragic because he was an incredible young man," said Davis.

He found out he was HIV positive before their wedding. She decided to marry him and remain abstinent.

"I have to say it was definitely a decision of faith," noted Davis. "It was frightening in that regard. I also knew that he needed somebody to be there with him and I wanted to be that person."

They didn't tell anyone about his disease for fear of rejection. After two and a half years of marriage, the disease killed him. She has since re-married and has a teenage daughter.

Since 1981, AIDS has killed more than 28 million people according to the Centers for Disease Control. Today, more than 30 million people have HIV. One in five Americans is living with the disease and doesn't even know it.

What's even more alarming is African Americans represent 44 percent of all new HIV cases in the U.S. That's why Davis speaks to kids and adults to about prevention measures all the time.

"Yes it's very alarming," Davis added. "We are being impacted disproportionately by the disease, so my passion is to get the word out to all those layers in the community so people can make different choices.

Davis hopes they make the right life choices and get tested periodically so they don't infect other people. For people who'd like to get tested for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, the Health Department on East Cary street offers screenings every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Call 482-5500 for information.

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