Friday, December 01, 2006

Guest Writer Jason Nelson: HIV/AIDS in North Carolina

In honor of World AIDS Day, I wanted to share a flier I created for co-workers as perhaps a vehicle for thoughtful and engaged contemplation. In the words of Marcella Tillett, a true sojourner: "we all have a responsibility to our people, our kind - Humankind, to keep promoting the practices of prevention, acceptance, and positive living".

The flier is a glimpse into HIV/AIDS in North Carolina. In these days and times we often focus our efforts and attention towards a more global perspective of the epidemic and forget about its existence in our own backyard.

Today and everyday is an opportunity to reflect on the first 25 years of AIDS and to reflect on how far we have yet to go. For me, today is not only about those infected and affected. It's about our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, co-workers, neighbors, best friends, lovers, partners. It's about our collective responsibility. It's about reflection. It's about healthy living. It's about acceptance. It's about destroying stigma. It's about truth. It's about honesty. It's about activism. It's about awareness. It's about you. It's about me. It's about US.

  • In 2005, 1,806 new individuals were reported with an HIV diagnosis (HIV disease). In the last five years, NC has averaged approximately 1,700 new reports each year.

  • An estimated 29,500 persons were living with HIV or AIDS in North Carolina (including persons who may have been unaware of their infection) as of 12/31/05.

  • Nationally, in 2003, North Carolina reported the 2nd highest number of AIDS cases from non-metropolitan areas.

  • Since the early 1990s, about 25 percent of North Carolina’s HIV disease reports have consistently come from rural, or non-metropolitan, areas.

  • The largest disparity in 2005 observed was for black non-Hispanic females, with a rate of HIV infection (37.3 per 100,000) that was over 12 times higher than that of white non-Hispanic females (3.0 per 100,000).

  • In 2004, HIV/AIDS was listed as the 7th leading cause of death for N.C. adults 25-44 years old.

Source: N.C. Epidemiologic Profile for HIV/STD Prevention and Care Planning (08/06)—Accessed 11/27/2006

To reflect on the journey we have taken to get through the first 25 years of AIDS and reflect on how far we have yet to go in the fight, visit the International Carnival of Pozitivities Blog (ICP). The ICP was founded by Ron Hudson, a native North Carolinian who resides in Durham.

Jason Nelson is a PROUD native of Roxboro, NC, where he was born, reared, and educated. His studies and travels have taken him to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, North Carolina A&T State University, and American University in Washington, DC. Early in his career, he lived and worked in Memphis, TN, as an accountant in the private sector. Upon growing leery of the demands of the corporate world, he relocated to the District of Columbia to chart a new path and journey for himself. While in the District, he worked for a number of organizations including the Human Rights Campaign and the Whitman Walker Clinic. Jason is very proud of the time he spent at Whitman Walker working with and learning from some of the most thoughtful, engaging, and compassionate people he has ever known.

After completing his graduate studies in public and nonprofit management, Jason moved to Botswana where he spent nine months as a Peace Corps volunteer in the village of Lerala. Currently, he calls Raleigh, NC, home while he completes a stint as a project manager and coordinator for a statewide biofuels initiative. He is also an uncle of the most adorable little girl in the world. Jason is an Aquarius and enjoys playing tennis, knitting, and traveling.



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