The Fight Continues
After 30 years of dealing with HIV and AIDS, Delaware has a long way to go in preventing the disease.
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The same goes for many heterosexual teens, who are subject to varying levels of education on sexual health and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. “That’s the flip side of effective therapy, that the disease is no longer seen as a death sentence,” Szabo says. “That paints a very different picture to adolescents and young adults.”
Early education through the classroom and high school wellness centers is important, Bincsik say, but it can go only so far in preventing risky behavior. She says the state should provide easy access to testing for teens through high school wellness centers, because many HIV cases are now appearing in young adults who were infected as teens.
Outside the gay community, HIV infection rates continue to grow among African Americans, especially women, through heterosexual contact. According to the 2008 Delaware HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 63 percent of those diagnosed with HIV through 2008 were African American, 70 percent of whom were female. Again, the stigma of HIV/AIDS, combined with the political danger of having unfavorable demographic data turned against them, discourages many black Delawareans from acknowledging the need to get tested, let alone actually getting tested.
So after 30 years living in the shadow of HIV/AIDS, where is Delaware now? Better at treating the infection, say the experts, but still a long way from winning the battle. “I think if you asked the general person on the street in Delaware, ‘Is HIV infection a significant problem in the state of Delaware,’ I would venture to say that a majority of people would say no,” says Bincsik. “And the answer is yes.”