Chattanoogans celebrate, remember on World AIDS Day - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanoogans celebrate, remember on World AIDS Day

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Around the world and here at home people were remembering others who've lost their lives to AIDS and showing support to those living with HIV.

Monday marked the 26th Annual World AIDS Day. It was created to eliminate some stereotypes and misconceptions associated with the disease.

More than 16,000 Tennesseans are living with HIV or AIDS and that number is growing. But the diagnosis no longer comes with the same results compared to 25 years ago.

Shateria Smith lost both her parents to the disease. She remembers one thing her mother told her a week before she passed away.

“She said, you know I don't want you to blame your Dad. He gave it to me, but don't blame him because I don't. It was my choice,” she said.

Smith says the disease used to come with a death sentence but that's slowly beginning to change.

“My mom was on 22 pills a day and now when you get infected with HIV, you can live a normal life expectancy with one pill a day,” she added.

Jim Samples founded Chattanooga CARES almost 30 years ago after seeing friends mistreated for having the disease.

“They isolated them, put them in a room, didn't let them eat with the rest of the family, fed them off paper plates and cups. I saw that happen to a lot of people I know,” he said.

Samples says Chattanooga has a large infected population and agrees the diagnosis no longer comes with a death sentence but does need to be maintained.

“If you find out today you're HIV and go immediately into medical care for yourself, then you can live a long life,” he added.

Candles represent the lives cut short, but this celebration is a reminder of how far we've come. 

Click here for more information about Chattanooga CARES.


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