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Number of U.S. women with HIV growing

December 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Women account for more than one quarter of all new cases of HIV and AIDS. And some ethnic groups are especially affected. AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women between the ages of 25-34, and the fourth leading cause of death for Hispanic women in the same age group.Call it a prevention intervention -- it is an attempt to reach young single girls before they make the mistake that could change their lives.

"They are apart of our future. Life should not stop now for them because they are HIV positive, they can't have children, afraid to be married, ashamed of disease and all of those things that happen," said actress, Tasha Smith.

Smith knows what she is talking about. Long before she became famous in such films as, "Why Did I Get Married?" or "Daddy's Little Girl," she dealt with the consequences of sexual promiscuity and substance abuse as a teenager.

"I just believe in keeping it real and being honest. I feel it is part of my responsibility to go back to my community and to talk to the young girls, encourage them and to empower them," said Smith.

A CDC report in 2006, found females 13 and older got HIV through shared drug needles. Sixty-five percent got HIV through unprotected sex.

"It does exist and it is affecting our community with these young girls. If they understand how true the statistics are they will make decisions that will prevent them from having to go thru that," said Smith.

"I am not going to take those types of risks as much, without thinking about my future before hand. It is more important than anything else," said student, Danielle Crowder.

Tasha Smith wishes someone had talked to her the way she is talking to these young ladies. She hopes they are listening.

"We have a purpose in life and we have to make choices that is going to put us in the right direction of why God created us as human beings. I hope they got the message," said Smith.

Smith came to speak on behalf of the Star Foundation.

Several studies show many high school kids don't think they're at any risk for getting HIV and AIDS -- which makes programs like this one today even more important.


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