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Teen writers pen cautionary tale of teen faced with AIDS

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

In South Carolina, African-Americans make up 29 percent of the population, but account for 73 percent of the total people living with HIV. The face of new infections is getting younger, according to activists.

A Midlands group has a new book that aims to bring awareness to youth who are most at-risk. The authors -- a group of men from the state Juvenile Justice Department -- are teenagers themselves.

"In the process of doing it, it's just been fun," said one of the book's authors who cannot be identified. "But the message that it puts out is a very positive message, and people should be able to learn from it."

The book, AIDS in the End Zone, talks about the dangers and consequences of contracting the disease. The novel tells the story of Marcus, a student who contracts the disease through a process of bullying, deception, and ultimately unprotected sex.

The two-month project was co-authored by University of South Carolina professors and a graphic artist -- Sarah Petrulis, Karen Gavigan, and Kendra Albright.

"They really put a lot of work into this," said Albright.

Albright says the novel is an effort to bring awareness of the disease to the highest at-risk group in South Carolina.

"The largest population we are trying to reach are predominantly African-American teens," said Albright.

The students infused trendy language their friends could understand. It was that kind of creativity and realness Albright says they were looking for from the DJJ students.

"It made me feel different because they could have gone to anybody, but they chose us," said one of the DJJ students.

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