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On World AIDS Day, Chicago Pastors Get Tested

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On World AIDS Day, Chicago Pastors Get Tested

Rev. Robbie Wilkerson wants young people to follow his example and get tested. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)

The number of HIV infections overall in Chicago has declined in recent years. But infections among adolescents and young adults have increased. On Monday, World AIDS Day, some pastors tried to do something about it. We report from our West Side bureau.

The Chicago Public Health Department says HIV diagnoses increased 42 percent from 2000 to 2006 among city residents between the age of 15 and 24. Nearly three-quarters of the young people diagnosed with the virus in 2006 were African American.

This afternoon, more than a dozen black pastors met in a community center of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. They got in line for HIV tests from a case worker named Regina Hampton.

HAMPTON: This test takes only 20 minutes for the results to come back. It’s a swab, which just measures any HIV antibodies in your system...

Hampton handed the swab to New Birth Christian Center Rev. Robbie Wilkerson, who rubbed it across his top gums.

Wilkerson said he wanted to set an example for young people.

WILKERSON: I want to make sure that, those who follow me, if they see me doing it, it will cause them to do it as well.

The pastors called on public policy makers to make HIV prevention and treatment a higher priority.

I’m Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.

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