Valley Aids Council uses 'National Condom Month' to educate RGV

Regular testing can help people make informed decisions about sexual activity.

To mark the beginning of National Condom Month, a Rio Grande Valley resident recently spoke with Action 4 News about how he contracted AIDS " and the importance of sex education. I was feeling really sick for a while. I knew something was going on with my lungs. I couldn't really breathe and function on a day-to-day basis," said Adrian Castellanos. It's been close to one year since Castellanos TM life was flipped upside down. He was 21 years old when he tested positive for AIDS. He became sexually active at age 16, but knew very little about sexually transmitted diseases "It was just something that is not really spoken about in Latino households, especially here in the Valley," Castellanos said. Castellanos said he never imagined that he would contract an incurable disease. It's one of those things you hear about, whether it's gossip or online, but you never expect something that large to be happening in your life, Castellanos said. Now that he's on a daily medication regimen in order to stay healthy, Castellanos said he understands that more needs to be done to educate teens. "I feel like people here don't think that teenagers are having sex " and they are. I was, some of my friends were and some of my family members that were my age were, Castellanos said. "Parents should be talking to their kids about sex; educators should be talking about sex as part of their sex curriculums," said Oscar Lopez, the education and prevention director for the Valley Aids Council. Lopez told Action 4 News the best way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence. Many people, though, become sexually active as teenagers. "We make sure there are condoms available for everyone, no matter your income or your age, Lopez said. In addition, the Valley Aids Council offers education, resources and free testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Castellanos told Action 4 News that getting tested is important because the sooner you know, the sooner you can start treatment. "I know that I can still have a happy life, I can have a healthy life," Castellanos said.

Valley Aids Council distributed 200,000 condoms last year.