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Local organization brings HIV/AIDS awareness to Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The Virginia Department of Health reports 10% of the reported HIV/AIDS cases in Virginia come from the city of Richmond.  Saturday was World AIDS Day, and in Richmond, hundreds turned out to several different events to raise awareness of how the disease is affecting Central Virginia.

Salimah’s House Incorporated put on a fashion show to bring awareness to World AIDS Day.  Their goal is to get people to start talking about HIV and AIDS awareness in Richmond.

The HIV and AIDS epidemic is a world wide problem, and in Richmond, the number of newly reported cases is growing.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, Richmond has more people living with the disease than most counties.

Richmond has more than 2,300 cases, which comes second in the state to Fairfax County near D.C.

On Saturday, folks from the Fan Free Clinic traveled around the city to give people free HIV screenings.

“We’re a community,” Deshun Defreitas, MSN program coordinator for the Fan Free Clinic, said.  “We have to stand strong as one and fight this together, and I think it takes one person at a time.”

At a worship service at Beth Abahah Temple, people of various faiths came together to remember the victims of the disease that lost their fight.

“Part of this is also to help people who have pain or hurt to be able to speak about this as a part of the healing process,” Rev. Robin Gorsline of the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond said.

Georgia Johnson’s son, Dwayne, died from AIDS in 1991.

“If I do nothing more than to save one child, then I’ve done something to at least not let my son have died in vain,” Johnson said.

Johnson said because HIV medication is so effective now, people have forgotten how deadly the virus actually is.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is getting to zero cases of new infection.

“We can get that when we start working on the cause and start chasing the effect,” Johnson said.

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