Encouraging awareness

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

A haircut and an HIV test &8212; it&8217;s a simple formula for peace of mind.

Selma AIDS Information and Referral (AIR) is taking a unique approach to combating the problem of HIV and AIDS in the black community with the Barbers for Brothers/Salons for Sisters campaign.

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Until June 25, Selma AIR is asking barber and beauty shops to encourage their clients to get tested.

Bragging rights aside, the winning shop gets to know it had a hand in possibly saving lives.

So far, the reception has been positive, and it&8217;s growing. One barber shop in particular, Giants on Jeff Davis Avenue, refers clients on a daily basis.

Co-manager Thadeus Aaron&8217;s take on the contest can be summed up simply: &8220;I&8217;m going to win this thing, if for anything, just to get people tested.&8221;

Selma AIR, located at 1432 Broad Street, will announce the contest winner June 27, which is National HIV Testing Day.

So far, 22 people have been tested, and 11 shops in Dallas County are on board with the program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 400,000 people in the U.S. are living with HIV or AIDS. However, only 1-in-10 people, about 40,000, actually know they are infected.

Part of that comes from people&8217;s fear of knowing they have HIV. The dreadful scare that hung over the masses when the disease was first discovered in the 1980s still lingers for some.

According to the CDC, 49 percent of known HIV/AIDS cases are among black people.