Tenner, executive director of Metro TeenAIDS, was recently awarded the 2012 Sunita Saxena Award by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine for demonstrating outstanding leadership in making young people healthier in the Chesapeake Bay region.
What are some ways Metro TeenAIDS reaches out to young people?
We're the largest provider of HIV education for young people in D.C. public schools and charter schools. We have 40 young people on staff trained to bring resources to wherever their friends are hanging out, whether it's the street corner, community center or a weekend party.
What's the most challenging part about your job?
Reminding people that 30 years into the HIV epidemic, HIV is a still huge issue in our community. While people are living longer and more healthy lives, HIV is 100 percent preventable. We need everybody's help -- schools, parents, community leaders, religious leaders -- to turn the tide in D.C.
How bad is the epidemic in D.C.?
Let me say first that I don't want to go to any more funerals. We have among the highest rates of new HIV rates compared to cities in the rest of the county. The World Health Organization considers an infection rate of 1 percent to be an epidemic. Three percent of D.C. residents are already known to be living with HIV/AIDS, and the actual rate is probably much higher. And if you break it down, some groups, like African-American men, have a 7 percent prevalence rate. So people have a real reason to be alarmed.
What is something about adolescence and health that people may not know?
The most important thing for folks to know is that anyone who is sexually active in our region is at risk for coming in contact with HIV. The second-most-important thing is that no young person should have to struggle with HIV alone. We need everyone's help to make a difference.