Today marks the 5th annual National Women and Girls HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day.
Health department staff say educating the community about the virus is key, so people can understand what causes it and what is required for it to spread.
Many women who contract HIV say they learn quickly which friends they can count on.
Diane Walden has lived with the virus for 19 years, and now speaks to various church groups and community organizations about the need to communicate and get tested.
Says Walden, "The true friends came forward [when I revealed I had HIV] -- and that's a good thing to have because most people, when they find out ... they get shunned, you get talked about, you get picked on, and that's a hard pill to swallow."
Debra Wallace is the New Beginnings Thomasville supervisor. She says the purpose of the organization is to get the message out that girls and women need to be having protected sex -- and that those who test positive for HIV are normal people, too.
"There's a lot of people that have the virus .. they don't even want [anyone] else to know because they feel like people will shun them, or you know, don't want to be around them."
The Health Department says the easiest way to prevent contracting or spreading the virus is by practicing safe sex.
They say with modern medicine those who test positive for the virus can still live a long life.
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