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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TENNESSEE: UTHSC Gives Teenagers 411 on Sex, STD Prevention
Chelsea Boozer
December 16, 2011
Commercial Appeal (Memphis) (12.04.11) - Friday, December 16,

The University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center and the Shelby County Health Department marked World AIDS Day by hosting some 250 teenagers for a special session, "The 411 on Sex." Andrea Williams, community development coordinator for the infectious-diseases division at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, noted that HIV is on the rise locally. "If we don't reach the youth who could potentially contract the virus, then there may not be a future in Memphis," she said.

Young people who attended the Dec. 4 session at UTHSC's Student Alumni Center submitted anonymous questions about sex and STDs. Pamela Houston, the center's special events director, said questions like "If I'm on the pill, can I still get an STD?" or "Can I get HIV from kissing?" indicate a lack of knowledge on the part of city youths.

"We are skating around the issue, acting like they are not going to have sex," said Houston. "We're not addressing the real issue to the real people who have the issue." Speaker Tameka Harrison worked to dispel some of the myths young people may have about HIV/AIDS. She asked the youths to close their eyes and imagine what a person with HIV looks like. "Most people think of a sickly, skinny person when they think of someone who is HIV-positive, but I get to show them that HIV looks just like me - like any person," said Harrison, who learned a year ago she was HIV-positive.

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