December 1, 2006
Around the globe today, thousands pause to mark the 19th annual World AIDS Day.
The epidemic continues to grow, and world leaders hope to keep the momentum to fight it alive.
That's no different here at home.
But the key is education.
There are 1582 reported cases of AIDS in the East Central Health District, an area that includes Augusta and 12 surrounding counties.
Our local health district has the third highest number of reported aids cases outside of metro Atlanta, and 79 percent of people with AIDS in our district are African Americans.
AIDS has infected 40 million people worldwide.
"We want people to get educated, informed," said Sandra Wimberly of the Richmond County Health Department. "More importantly we want them to get tested, and even more importantly we want them to get involved."
This World AIDS Day is about informing people that Georgia ranks 8th in the United States.
In our health district alone, there are thousands of aids cases...not counting people who may be infected and not even know it.
"In these counties just alone, we have 1582 cases of AIDS, now Dom, I said AIDS I said nothing about HIV, so that lets me know that number is likely higher," Wimberly said.
"The best thing people can do is get educated," Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. "Knowledge is power. People need to get tested."
Dr. Chitra Mani works with children who have HIV or AIDS.
"The main problem we have is a lot of kids don't take the medicines because they don't have a lot of family support," she said.
Those who campaign for AIDS awareness say knowing the facts and losing the stigma and discrimination will be a beacon of light full of hope.