Statistic report African Americans account for 75% of all new AIDS cases in the state. DISMAS charities, Word of Faith Christian Center and the Hip-Hop project felt compelled to do something about it.
Groups held the area's first HIV and AIDS rally at the East 5th Street Community Center to raise awareness about the disease. Coordinators of the program targeted teens in teh predominantly African-American community near the center. HIV testing, guest speakers, and representatives from the health department held break-out sessions. One of the coordinators revealed some alarming information.
Chris Kelly Patton, DISMAS Charities Director, says, "There was some testing that was done and about half of the group that were tested were still in high school and the testing came back positive in the Pine Belt area half of the students that were tested came back positive and those students frequent the city of Hattiesburg, Columbia, Wiggins, and I have two children of my own and we need to do something."