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National HIV/AIDS Writing Competition

National HIV/AIDS Writing Competition
Gives Young People a Voice

Shawn C. Nabors, 14, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the winner of “Positively Negative,” an HIV/AIDS National story-writing competition for youth ages 14-22. Nabors will receive a $500 cash prize and his story will be adapted into a screenplay and made into an HIV/AIDS educational film to be distributed nationwide to schools, health departments and other youth-serving organizations nationwide.

The final round judging panel included Spike Lee, Robert Rodriquez, producer Elizabeth Avellan, Jesse L. Martin, Jeff Friedman, playwright Charles Oyamo Gordon, Jasmine Guy, MTV VJ Quddus, and Dr. Loretta Jemmott, author/HIV/AIDS research prevention specialist.

“This competition is a fresh way to get young people thinking about their vulnerability to HIV and AIDS. The celebrity support validates these kids and says ‘your life is important to us — protect it,'” says Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott, professor and director of the Center for Health Disparities at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing.

Many young people are unaware that HIV and AIDS are significant threats in the United States, and believe that HIV/AIDS is only a problem overseas. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least half of all HIV infections in the United States are among people under 25 and the majority of these young people are infected sexually. Minorities are the hardest hit. The CDC reports that 84 percent of girls ages 13-19 with AIDS are African American or Hispanic and 62 percent of boys ages 13-19 with AIDS are African American or Hispanic.

“HIV and AIDS affect everybody. Kids feel invincible. This contest helped kids realize they are vulnerable,” says actress and writer Jasmine Guy, a contest spokesperson.

The call for entries yielded nearly 400 stories from all over the country, as well as international responses from London, Nigeria, Zambia and Canada. Young people also reached out from prison to share their thoughts. There were stories entered about incest, rape, drug addiction, spousal and child abuse and other issues that will find a voice in print compilation.

The contest is Select Media’s first annual competition in collaboration with The HEAR ME Project, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. The contest was created to get young people thinking about their own personal vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, and to give them a chance to have their voices and stories heard in a meaningful context. 

For further information, contact Tyree Oredein at (212) 941-2309 or visit .  

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