A Lifelong Crusade for AIDS Education
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Adam Tenner can't help but feel frustrated. "So much time has passed," says the 39-year-old, "and so much work is still left to be done."
It has been 25 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported, and Tenner has been an AIDS activist for 20 of them. Starting off as a peer educator while attending Sarah Lawrence College in 1986, he went on to run the HIV prevention program at YouthCare, a nonprofit organization for at-risk teenagers in Seattle, in the 1990s. In 2001, he became executive director of Metro TeenAIDS ( http:/
His is a gargantuan task. In a city with a high rate of new HIV cases -- and a school board that has yet to set a health education curriculum for the city's public schools -- Metro TeenAIDS's work is vital.
The organization hosts weekly support groups (with such names as "Where My Girls At?"); offers free HIV testing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; operates a casual drop-in center a few steps from the Eastern Market Metro stop Monday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.; and trains teens such as Tyrone Lofton, a senior at McKinley Tech in Northeast Washington, to be peer educators. On any given night, about 25 teenagers stop by the drop-in center. Every week, at least 10 HIV tests are given.
We sat with Tenner and Lofton at the drop-in center while a gaggle of young ladies hummed along with the latest hit by R&B singer Chris Brown on WKYS (93.9 FM).
You know Chris Brown?
Tenner: I work with kids. I have to know Chris Brown.
So you've been an AIDS peer educator since 1986?
Tenner: Yeah, 20 years ago now.
Lofton: Wow. I'm 17.
Tenner: Thanks for pointing that out, Tyrone.