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Local high schooler works to increase AIDS awareness


For Juli Anna Stanford, the issue of HIV/AIDS hits very close to home.

A student at Houston High School in her junior year, Stanford is aiming to do something big to increase awareness amongst her suburban peers.

“Although many teens in our community joke about AIDS, for the 300 teens that die a day of the disease, it is no laughing matter,” Stanford wrote in a letter she plans to release to her fellow students next week. “Dec. 1 is World AIDS day. A staggering 6,569 people in Memphis are living with AIDS/HIV.”

Stanford’s father was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 16 due to transfusions used to treat his Hemophilia. Today, many in the greater Memphis community find him to be an inspiration.

Defying medical odds, Shane Stanford has lived well past expected predictions – and done some unexpected things like become a father and a minister. Life, however, in the Stanford household is often underscored (subtly in some cases and blatantly in others) by the disease.

“HIV has always been a part of my life. Watching my dad deal with HIV has given me a passion to help others understand the depths of an issue that is not in the media forefront anymore,” said Juli Anna. “Sometimes it’s important to rise above, and to find meaning in cause.”

For this reason, Stanford is working with her Houston High School chapter of Health Occupations Students Association to organize an Aids Awareness Day this year.

In association with the day, Stanford plans to set up a table at lunch to answer questions from those passing by. She will also sell specially ordered bracelets for $1 to benefit the Memphis Hope House, which provides daycare for kids with HIV/AIDS or who are directly affected by AIDs as well as social services to adults with HIV/AIDS living in poverty in Memphis.

Throughout the day she will be hosting guest speakers from Hope House (and her father is expected to make some appearances) around the high school. After school, those guest speakers will host an additional symposium for students who did not get the opportunity to hear them speak during the school day.

Lastly, she is encouraging classmates to show their support by wearing red on December 1st and to post photos and facts via social media using the hashtags; #hhsloveshopehouse and #worldAIDSday2016

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