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Thursday Marks National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thursday marks the second annual National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Twenty-one thousand people in North Carolina are infected with HIV. Of that 21,000, 15,000 are black. Health officials are launching a campaign designed to raise awareness about the growing number of HIV and AIDS cases in the black community.

"We have pounded this, talked about it, written it down a number of times, but people still want to opt out and say it's not me, it's them, it's the other person. I can participate in risky behavior, but I don't have to worry," said Brenda Crowder-Gaines of the North Carolina HIV/STD Prevention Branch in Raleigh. "We're at a critical point to make sure every African-American understands and internalizes what it means to make a decision that puts you directly in the path of this particular virus."

The North Carolina HIV/STD prevention and care branch in Raleigh is using Black HIV/AIDS Awareness day to recognize volunteers. They also want to encourage others to give their time.

"People to answer the phone, send out the mail, on the buddy system, go grocery shopping for someone who is too sick to do that, so we're trying to get African-Americans involved in that aspect of HIV," Crowder-Gaines said.

The group is trying to increase awareness of the risky behavior that leads to HIV and AIDS, such as unprotected sex and sharing needles.

The volunteer celebration will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.