D.C. suburbs can no longer draw the shades on AIDS crisis

By Petula Dvorak
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The myths are still out there:

"You can get it from a mosquito."

"It's from monkeys."

"It's a gay thing."

"If it's oral, it doesn't count."

Keanna Faircloth has heard them all in Northern Virginia schools, where she tries hard to not run out of the room screaming, crying or pulling her hair out.

Faircloth goes to these schools, busts the myths and tries to put some useful information about HIV/AIDS into the rock-hard heads of about 10,000 kids every year.

And this can be a daunting task, given that not all schools in Northern Virginia welcome the message of prevention that Faircloth's organization, Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, is delivering.

"Of course, we start with abstinence. Of course. But that's also not realistic. Thirteen? Sex at 13 is nothing in these schools," she said.

Even in the suburbs? Where the lawns are all nice and the schools are great? AIDS?

And how.

The Washington AIDS Partnership is releasing a study Tuesday on HIV/AIDS in seven suburbs surrounding Washington. It's a sister study to the blockbuster released in 2005 that predicted an HIV/AIDS crisis in Washington. It materialized in 2008 when the District reported an epidemic-level rate of infection -- 3 percent of the population, among the highest in the nation and worse than in some Third World countries.

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