World AIDS Day Vigil Held on Statehouse Steps - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

World AIDS Day Vigil Held on Statehouse Steps

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By Alex Schuman

aschuman@myabc5.com

@alexschuman

A rally was held on the steps of Iowa's Statehouse Saturday night in honor of World AIDS Day. 

Jon Chamberlain was one of the speakers for the event.  He told the crowd about his battle being HIV positive, and how it transformed his life.

"A piece of you dies," Chamberlain said.  "A little dignity falls away."

Chamberlain and the group who set up the rally, AIDS Project for Central Iowa, hope sharing their stories will stop the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS. 

"People are so prejudice and have such stigmas about this disease that a lot of people don't get the support they need," said Chamberlain.

He still runs into people afraid to shake his hand who do not realize the disease transfers by contacting blood, through saliva or having sex.

"What we want to do is provide a group of friendly faces for you to talk to and to just commune with and be friends with," said Mark Turnage, AIDS Project for Central Iowa.  "And to show that we have the power to wipe out HIV from the face of the Earth."

The group urges people, gay or straight, to get tested.  Then once people are aware they have the disease, they can help stop the spread and start fighting it.  

Chamberlain has been on medication for 16 years, but now has such a small amount of the disease in his blood, it's almost untraceable.

"It's at such a low count, my chance of giving this disease to someone else is below one percent," he said.

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