Organizers prepare for National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Columbia,SC (WACH)--The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council is doing there part to make people aware of a growing deadly disease.

The 13th Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will be held Thursday. According to the Center for Disease Control, almost half of new HIV infections in the country were in the African-American Community; even though they only made up 14% of the population.

There will be several events around the Midlands on Thursday. The goal is to remind the public about the deadly disease and urge people to get tested.

State HIV/AIDS Council Executive Director Dr. Bambi Gaddist said in the Palmetto State, 73% of cases are from African-American men between the ages of 18-24.

But Gaddist said she is seeing another disturbing increase.

"We are seeing an unfortunate increase among the 45 year-old and up category," Gaddist said. "It has been in our community so long that it is no longer a disease of the young where new infections are coming. But now we have more and more adults 45 and up living with it."

Gaddist said the first line of defense is education children at earlier ages and re-enforcing it.

One event Thursday is scheduled at Benedict College. The council's mobile testing unit will be at the Gressette building to offer free testing between 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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