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AIDS: "It's an everybody disease"

As people observe World AIDS Day this week, Arlean DeMull sat for a portrait at her Largo home Thursday and reflected on her life with the disease. DeMull, 44, was infected 20 years ago by her fiance, who had become infected before they were together. The two later married, and he died in 1995. She said there is still a lot of misinformation about HIV and AIDS. "It's 2006, and people shun people with HIV like it's the plague, like it's 1986 again," she said. "People still think it's a gay disease or a drug users' disease, but it's not." She said people should not fear those who are infected but that they should take precautions because many people are infected without knowing it. "All people have to do is be knowledgeable, to learn ... how to not get HIV." DeMull encourages everyone to get tested. "It's an everybody disease," she said. For information on AIDS and AIDS testing in Pinellas County, go to http://www.pinellashealth.com/HIVAIDS.asp.

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