Youth Reach Program: An HIV/AIDS Program

By Tizeta Girma

In our everyday life we usually get caught up in little things and forget the most important things. One of the biggest issues that young people are facing is the most dangerous disease called HIV/AIDS. Up to this very day there is no cure for the disease. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) was first reported in the U.S in 1981. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

According to the U.S centers for Disease control and prevention, AIDS affects nearly seven times more African Americans than Whites in the United States and three times more Hispanics than Whites. AIDS grew into a public health disaster during our time. More than 700,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the U.S since 1981. As many as 900,000 people may be infected with HIV. The epidemic is growing most rapidly among minority populations and is a leading killer of Black males.

The Youth Reach Program is supposed to help students understand the causes and the treatments of this deadly disease. I myself have been a member of this program for a few years. It is aimed especially for people living in the U.S. &endash; especially Africans, African Americans, and Hispanic youth who may be at risk for contracting HIV infection. The program meets at least twice a month and also offers a series of on-going projects consisting of events and prevention activities for youth in the community.

Youth Reach has been a great way for me to use my talents to help others help themselves. In this program teenagers learn how to help other teenagers learn about HIV. Our group meets twice a month to learn about HIV and work on projects and prevention activities for young people in our community.

Youth Reach programs have done a lot with Blair students. During World Aids Day '99 a group of us participated in an event at the Washington Monument. The previous months we went on a two-day reception held by the Montgomery County government.

The main point of this program is to help us learn how to reach the community to prevent HIV and STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). If you are interested in participating or learning more about how you can help, feel free to contact the coordinator, Rena Holland, at 301-587-1111 or me, Tizeta Girma a senior at Blair, at 301-270-2751. There are many benefits and rewards for those who chose to get involved. Lets see what kind of new community activities we can create in out efforts to get rid of this serious problem.

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