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World AIDS Day: WV Experts Say Protect Yourself, and Get Tested

November 29, 2007

Charleston, WV – This Saturday is World AIDS Day, and state experts say West Virginians should take precautions and get tested if they're at risk. AIDS has caused more than 750 deaths since the state began tracking the disease. Amy Weintraub with Covenant House in Charleston says there's a lot West Virginians can do to prevent future illness and death due to AIDS.

"The World AIDS Day event is all about getting the word out that AIDS is still among us, and that people need to be consistent in protecting themselves and educating themselves on the virus."

Chuck Anziulewicz is an HIV prevention specialist with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health. He says an estimated 25 percent of people infected with HIV don't know about it, so it's vital that more people come in and get tested.

"We're always encouraging people who run any kind of a risk for HIV infection to find out as early as possible. Get tested, and the earlier you know, the better your treatment options are."

Weintraub says she's seen an unfortunate trend - where people think AIDS isn't a big deal, because of the advances in medications in recent years.

"What they don't realize is the side effects that come along with the medications, and that it's not a great quality of life. We certainly hope that people will wake up to this and do everything they can to protect themselves."

West Virginians can mark the day with a series of events in Charleston, including a procession and candlelight vigil at the Living AIDS Memorial Garden, and a documentary screening. Event information is online, at wvcovenanthouse.org.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WV