VIENNA Group plans AIDS mission to Africa

More than 20 percent of all adults in South Africa are HIV-positive or have AIDS.
VIENNA -- Although the trip is several months away, a local agency is working to make sure teenagers and young adults in South Africa can hear its message.
Teen Straight Talk, a local nonprofit agency promoting sexual abstinence to teens, is looking for financial and material donors to help with a planned trip. Members of the organization, on Youngstown-Kingsville Road, plan to visit South Africa by late summer.
Luann Esbenshade, public relations director, said spreading the message of abstinence in that country is important because of the HIV and AIDS epidemic there.
"Theirs is a culture that accepts men basically doing what they want and, therefore, they have large numbers of sexual partners," she said.
The culture also places taboos on discussing sex and educating about the transmission of HIV, she said.
Sobering statistics
Research shows more than 20 percent of all adults -- roughly 5 million people -- in South Africa are HIV-positive or have AIDS.
One in every five babies born there is HIV-positive, and Esbenshade said few men in the areas that Teen Straight Talk visits live past their mid-30s.
Esbenshade said during past visits, Teen Straight Talk members presented total-abstinence programs. "They are really seeking any answers they can to stop the spread of AIDS," she said.
To provide funding for the visit later this year, officials from Teen Straight Talk established the Roland Duke Africa Mission Fund, which honors executive director Mary L. Duke's husband, who recently passed away.
For more information on Teen Straight Talk, to schedule a presentation, or to donate to the Roland Duke Africa Mission Fund, check the Web site:, call (330) 539-6040 or e-mail

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