VANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Health officials in Vance County are concerned about a top 10 list that no community wants to be on.
Vance County has the highest unemployment and teen pregnancy rates in North Carolina. Now, the county is on the state's top 10 list for
"We certainly have a problem with that in Vance County as we do with other sexually transmitted diseases," said Dr. Rodwell Drake of the Vance County Health Department.
State figures from 2001 through 2003 rank Vance County as seventh highest in the state with 49 HIV cases. Granville County follows with 47 cases. Halifax County has 29 cases and Warren County has 18 cases. Most fall in the 30- to 50-year-old age group.
"Men who have sex with men are the highest risk groups as far as risk factors are concerned. Intravenous drug use increases your risk. We also see a lot of HIV in heterosexuals now," Drake said.
Health officials said the HIV rate among teenagers is 3 percent. Some credit a new state law that requires the teaching of abstinence in public schools. Others argue that policy keeps schools from doing more to educate students about disease and preventative measures.
Elaine Chavis-Young, who has made HIV prevention her life's calling, offers free workshops to discuss HIV prevention.
"I also work with teenagers who are either thinking about becoming sexually active or they are practicing abstinence. People just don't want to talk about it in the community," she said.
Chavis-Young said she wants people to discuss HIV as openly as cancer or diabetes.