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AIDS Advocate Says Disease Does Not Discriminate

By Lisa Litzinger

Buffalo, NY – Local AIDS activists and others gathered at HSBC Arena Monday for the annual observance of World AIDS day. An HIV infected man said he wants to spread the message that the disease does not discriminate.

Doug Hasslip is a heterosexual man who attributes his infection to a once careless lifestyle. He admits that he once believed HIV was a homosexual disease.

"My purpose now is to educate as many young and old people as I can, because the virus can affect anyone," Hassplip said. "It doesn't discriminate. I'm living proof of that."

Also speaking at the event was County Health Commissioner Anthony Billitier. A clinician on the weekends, Billitier says that removing the stigma is necessary so that clinics can freely test for the disease.

"We need to get clinicians doing HIV tests just like they do every other blood test," Billittier said. "We need to make it just another disease, and get rid of these barriers that we have. On the public health side, we need to acknowledge that this is a public health problem. It's an infectious disease just like there are other infectious diseases."

This year's World AIDS Day theme urges people to increase awareness of the risk of HIV and AIDS, and end discrimination against the victims of the disease.