Bismarck Tribune Features Three-Part Series on HIV/AIDS in North Dakota
The Bismarck Tribune this week featured a three-part series on HIV/AIDS in North Dakota. Summaries of the articles follow:
- "A Reason to Live": The Tribune on Sunday profiled Steve Wagendorf, North Dakota's spokesperson for its HIV/AIDS Program. Wagendorf, who is HIV-positive, has been in commercials, set up a support group in the western part of North Dakota and talks about the disease to groups throughout the state. Wagendorf said that the state's gay community is "undereducated" and that the young generation now becoming sexually active sees HIV as treatable, according to the Tribune (Dooley, Bismarck Tribune, 10/26).
- "State Lags Behind in AIDS Programs": North Dakota has the fewest HIV/AIDS cases per capita in the country and has an average of 17 new cases reported each year, according to the Tribune. However, state officials have said that a recent rise in the use of methamphetamines and a growing complacency about the disease could lead to an increase in the spread of HIV. In addition, North Dakota does not offer the same community outreach and prevention programs as other states. "Conservative beliefs and a lack of funding make it hard to implement programs other states have," Karin Mongeon, North Dakota HIV/AIDS program manager, said, according to the Tribune (Dooley, Bismarck Tribune, 10/27).
- "Young and Invincible": Although most high school and college students in North Dakota have learned about HIV/AIDS through sex education courses, "most of them don't know anyone who's infected, which makes it easy not to worry about" the disease, the Tribune reports. State and national officials are struggling with youth complacency, a problem that in North Dakota "is coupled with the 'it doesn't happen here' mentality" that accompanies living in a state that has only reported 312 HIV/AIDS cases since 1985, according to the Tribune (Dooley, Bismarck Tribune, 10/28).