Working to Remove Stigma on World Aids Day

Posted at: 11/30/2012 6:45 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- More than a million people are living with HIV in the United States and the Centers for Disease Control expects nearly twenty thousand will die within the next 12 months.

Saturday is World Aids Awareness Day. To recognize it, UMR offered free HIV testing Friday.
Organizers are trying to break the "stigma" of getting tested.

It's something many may be afraid to admit or even talk about. But not Daniel Skoglund.

"I'm getting tested for HIV."

Skoglund was one of the people getting tested at UMR on Friday.

"I feel it's my duty to protect who I will come in contact with sexually, from any harm," said Skogland.

The free testing was made available, in part, thanks to The Teen Council.

"It'll make it more socially acceptable to be safe about it, it puts that public information out there," said Grace Glover.

Glover is part of The Teen Council says nearly 50,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year and 1 in 5 won't even know it.

"It's still a concern in this country and I think educating and testing is the best way to protect ourselves," said Glover.

On Friday they were testing with just a simple finger prick, the results only took 15 minutes to get back. The tested are given a sticker to wear and announce what they've done.

"I feel like some people might be embarrassed about getting tested, but when you make it a symbol of pride and responsibility more people are going to get tested," said Glover.

And for those who know the dangers of HIV...

"I've known people who have lived with AIDS who have died of complications," said Skoglund.

Starting that conversation means so much more.

" I'm inviting people to talk and question, It's breaking down those walls one step at a time," said Skoglund.

The Professional Aids Network also held a vigil Friday night at Peace Plaza.