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Nonprofit Offers HIV/AIDS Stigma Reduction Training In D.C. Schools

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By Rebecca Sheir

DC has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the country. A local non-profit is working to reduce the stigma among young people infected by the disease.

HIV/AIDS first came to light in the early 1980s. And yet myths about the illness live on. For instance, Andrea Rigoli of Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care says "a lot of people don't want to be in a room with people who are HIV-positive because they're afraid that they might catch it."

Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care is a local non-profit serving young people in the DC area infected, or affected, by HIV/AIDS. PAHC has begun educating students and teachers in DC public schools in what Rigoli calls "Stigma Reduction Training."

"Its a matter of saying, okay, I see that you're afraid, but this is how you can get HIV and this is not," she explains. "And hopefully by opening those dialogues in sort of that calm setting, that will reduce the HIV/AIDS-related stigma."

Currently, one-tenth of one-percent of Washington's youth are infected.

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