As reported on, written by Nyesha Stone

How old were you when you got the talk? It was an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s a necessary one. So, why is talking about sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such a taboo? It’s an act that most individuals will experience at least once in their life, but we act as if no one’s doing it.

Running Rebels Community Organization did what it has always done: be a platform for the community to have open conversations that will advance the community. On Dec. 1, World AIDS day, Running Rebels held their Don’t Guess It, Get Tested AIDS Awareness Community Talkback at their building located on 225 W. Capitol Dr.

The talkback featured four panelists: Victor Barnett Jr, Milwaukee rapper known as Lil Vic; Donta Holmes, Running Rebels Director of Mentoring & Athletics; Jasmine Blakely, Running Rebels Administrative Assistant; and Shane Woodruff, Running Rebels educational and volunteer coordinator.

The goal of the talkback was to break down barriers and fight past the stigma surrounding AIDS. The crowd was full of Black and Brown youth, who the Running Rebels mainly work with.

Panelist and audience members answered questions asked by the moderator Derrick Shoates, including, why don’t we openly discuss STDs or STIs (sexually transmitted infections)?

“There’s nobody you really want to talk to about it,” Barnett said about why people don’t feel comfortable discussing it. “[But,] you need to find someone to talk to.”

Running Rebels handed out a small flyer that had statistics about STDs to show the youth that they’re not too young to catch something.

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