Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) (07.31.12)
Lawrence Stallworth, a community educator and outreach coordinator at the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, takes seriously his role in preventing HIV. He has shared his story of being diagnosed with HIV at age 17 at the UN on World AIDS Day and at the US Conference on AIDS, and last September was one of the first young people to speak before the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
As a session panelist at the 19th International AIDS Conference, Stallworth called on the president, Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the HIV/AIDS community to create a National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. CDC data show four of every 10 new infections are among people younger than 30. Youth need a “day every year to know that they need to stand up for this issue until we have no new cases of HIV infection,” said Stallworth.
Stallworth said that as a gay black male, he knew he was at high risk for HIV and sought testing every few months. But that cautious behavior was not enough.
“Black gay men - we don’t have high-risk sexual behaviors in general, but the reason why we’re at risk is that there’s already so much HIV in the community. It only takes one slip up,” Stallworth noted.
Stallworth’s goal is to become an infectious-disease nurse and work at the Cleveland Clinic. “I made the decision to dedicate my life to fighting HIV/AIDS. It didn’t stop me from graduating high school; it didn’t stop me from going to college for nursing; and I just made the dean’s list this semester.”