Austin, Ind. high school student pens raw, honest newspaper article about HIV
Perhaps the most compelling stories on the HIV crisis in Scott County, Indiana, are coming from students at Austin High School: students like Holli Reynolds.
Thursday, April 9th 2015, 3:28 PM EDT
AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) -- Perhaps the most compelling stories on the HIV crisis in Scott County, Indiana, are coming from students at Austin High School.
Students like Holli Reynolds.
"Whenever you're from such a small town, you realize you're going to know most of the people who live here, and unfortunately, that comes with the good and the bad," Reynolds said.
Eighty-nine new cases have been confirmed in her community this year. Health officials warn that it is spreading through drug addicts sharing needles. Reynolds said one of those addicts is related to her.
"We know people, I have family members who have tested," Reynolds said. "That's why I want to make sure it's gone for good."
Reynolds penned an article for the Austin High School newspaper called "Her Story." It features a woman newly diagnosed with HIV. Raw and honest, she tells of starting drugs at 15, selling her body by 17, being beaten and sometimes walking 20 miles to prostitute.
The woman in the article told Reynolds, "The addiction is so strong, I don't even do it for the high anymore. I do it not to be sick."
On Friday, the school newspaper will release Reynolds' article and others in a special HIV publication.
Classmates say they want to help in the crisis.
"We're scared to see it start spreading into the school," said Chandler Bowman, a senior who works on the student run TV news program. "We can already see that there are students who have used or their parents are using and what happens in the school affects the future generations and we are about inherit this town."
Reynolds and other students started a new club at the school, called "Stand Up," in which they speak to kids in 2nd grade through 8th grade about HIV awareness and the new programs in town.
"People are afraid of the needle program and they're afraid of it because they think police are waiting," Bowman said. "We're trying to inform the children because if we can get to the kids...and then they can get it to their parents, say, 'Mom, Dad, I have a problem, you have a problem,'...So if we can convince the children, that's one of the easiest ways to get to the people."
For these students, the HIV crisis is personal. It's not just a headline: it's home.
"We have to spread the word to the younger kids so this doesn't continue to be a repeated cycle," Reynolds said.
Stand Up meetings are also open to the public and students from any school in the district. The next one is April 16 at Frontline Christian Ministries, Inc. in Austin, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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