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HIV/AIDS Causes Stigma Among D.C.'s Youth

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By Rebecca Sheir

A tenth of one percent of D.C.'s teens are infected with HIV. Adrienne Belasco, a medical student at Georgetown University, says being a teenager is hard enough, "just with social aspects and just growing up in this world, like dealing with the everyday things," says Belasco.

But being a teen with HIV "causes a great deal of isolation." Or so says Andrea Rigoli, of Pediatric AIDS/ HIV Care, a non-profit in D.C. serving youths infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Speaking at Georgetown Medical School, she reminded future doctors like Belasco of the stigma and fear surrounding infected kids. Rigoli talked about myths among children, such as being able to get AIDS just by sitting next to each other.

"A lot of fear comes from misinformation," says Rigoli. "Let's just sit down and make sure that we understand where that fear comes from and how we can eliminate the fear," says Rigoli.

Because only then, she says, can we begin to eliminate the disease.


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