Paine College holds HIV/AIDS forum

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News 12 6 o'clock / Friday, March 8, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- National Women and Girls HIV and AIDS Awareness Day is this Sunday, but one local college isn't waiting for the weekend. Paine College hosted an awareness forum Friday morning for their students.

"African-American women are 20 times more likely to contract HIV than their counterparts," said Skky Banks.

And if that didn't catch your attention ... "Studies show that one in 32 African-American women will contract HIV in her lifetime," Banks said.

Banks is an advocate for the cause and helped organize Friday's forum at Paine College.

"Thirty years ago it was thought that when you get HIV, you will die, you're absolutely going to die. So, there's still a lot of myths surrounding HIV/AIDS," Banks said.

Masonia Trailer shared the importance of testing and education with ladies at Paine College, but she also shared her personal experience.

"It was extremely difficult to try and figure out when do I disclose my status because I felt like it wasn't everyone's business," Trailer said.

But now she's making being HIV positive everyone's business because she says talking about it can save lives, and she hopes you'll talk about it, too.

"If you are in a relationship where you are very intimate with that person, you should disclose your status to protect that person. Educate them," Trailer said.

Banks says the most recent stats show African-American women and girls are 20 times more likely to get infected with HIV.

"Equip and empower women and girls with accurate information and resources to stay protected and prevent contracting the disease," Banks said.

A message she says she hopes will live on beyond today -- and long after Sunday, too.

The nationwide observance is this Sunday. Organizers ask that you wear red to show support and that they hope you'll use social media to get the word out.