AIDS an issue that now hits home

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 1, 2002

We discuss a lot of issues in Selma. Many of those issues relate to jobs, industry, city government, race relations, annexation and our schools.

AIDS, and the threat of AIDS, is an issue that doesn’t see much discussion here. While AIDS is not a major killer when compared to cancer or heart disease, the deadly reach of the AIDS disease does grab Dallas County.

Our county has people living in it right now who are infected with AIDS. There are others with HIV, which is the precursor to AIDS. Officially, Dallas County has 92 cases of AIDS. That ranks us 10th out of the 67 counties in Alabama.

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The AIDS threat is real in Dallas County and it is something we need to take seriously. Fortunately there are those in our community who are responsible for preventing this deadly disease, which has no cure. The Blackbelt HIV Prevention Community Planning Group will conduct a conference next week on HIV and its impact in our county.

We support the conference and its goals because of the threat of AIDS that exists right here.

Those familiar with the situation say the disease is &uot;holding steady&uot; and is making a sustained spread into the heterosexual population. AIDS was once believed to be a disease primarily found in homosexual men, but that has changed.

AIDS is also a disease that strikes many African Americans and that is a concern to a community with our racial composition. Forty percent of all new AIDS cases show up in African American men.

AIDS is a fatal disease but it is also a disease that is very preventable, say those who work on stopping the spread of AIDS.

In many cases, people contract AIDS because they make choices that are morally wrong. People choose to engage in high-risk sexual relationships and the use of illegal drugs. These choices keep the AIDS virus active in our population.

To stop AIDS we need to teach youngsters right and wrong and the benefits of living a life free of drugs and dangerous sexual relationships.

Our battle with AIDS is much like our war on drugs. The solution &110; not participating in risky behavior &110; seems simple.

But putting that solution into action is much more difficult.