"Getting tested is the best thing you could do."
In Atlantic City, HIV and AIDS is a serious problem, and February 7th marked National Black HIV and AIDS Awareness day.
The Atlantic City Division of Health offered free HIV tests in their ‘mobile rapid test truck' for anyone that wished to be tested. "The rate of HIV infection in Atlantic City, according to the state health department is 1 in 40 persons; and for African Americans –1 in 32, which is astounding," explained Atlantic City HIV Coordinator Gene Brunner.
Atlantic City resident, Corey Davis, said, "When you know, everything is good...but when you don't know, you're kind of skeptical...but today is the day you know for sure."
Brunner added, "In some areas, AIDS is on page 2 of the newspaper. In Atlantic City, we think it should be on page 1 because of the high rate of HIV infection. Especially in the black community."
Among all racial and ethnic groups, African Americans bear the greatest burden of HIV in the United States.
Travis Love, health educator for South Jersey AIDS Alliance, said, "It is a problem. It's a big problem...and unfortunately because people don't want to talk about sex, people have misconceptions about who gets infected with HIV. It's sort of just swept under the rug."
At the Atlantic Cape Community College, representatives from the South Jersey AIDS Alliance encouraged students to not only get tested, but they want students to focus on the preventative measures so that they can stop HIV infections before they happen. Officials say that's the only real way to stop the rapid growth of this deadly disease.
Love said, "Whether it be talking to your friends, taking some information from the drop–in center and sharing it with your family and friends, getting some free condoms that we have available. There are preventative measures and we all need to take because we can all play a role in preventing the spread of HIV."
The Atlantic City Division of Health says anyone can be tested, Monday through Friday, at the Reliance Health Care Center, the Oasis Drop-in Center, or at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center, all of which are located in Atlantic City.