Communities throughout Iowa are holding public-education events and offering health information tomorrow for “World AIDS Day”. Bryce Sitter, an educator with the Red Cross of Central Iowa, says there are still too many people unconcerned about the risk. A lot of people have the idea that it’s someone else’s problem, he says. But there is a population of H-I-V-positive people in Des Moines. Some help with education today, going out to speak to groups and explain that they’re one of the faces of H-I-V.

“They also thought that that it’s someone else, it won’t happen to me,” he says, “and it did happen to them.” Sitter says young people tend to dismiss all risks, and older people are sometimes resistant tolearning about the disease. “When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what race or culture you live in, it comes down to what are your behaviors that would keep you from getting H-I-V or put you at risk.” He says education ranges from basic facts about AIDS, the risks of different kinds of behavior, and treatments available.

Sitter says education can reduce the stigma of the disease, for patients and others. You’ll generally accept people with H-I-V more willingly if you understand that you can’t catch it through casual contact, he explains, and someone can work more comfortably with an H-I-V-positive person. With less stigma someone’s more likely to go get tested for their H-I-V status, and people living with the disease are likely to live longer if they’re accepted in the community.

In 2005 Iowa recorded the greatest increase in new cases of AIDS since the state began reporting them in 1998, 113 new cases of the disease diagnosed last year. White males born in the U.S. are the most likely to become a victim according to specialists who gathered for a conference earlier this year in Des Moines.