The HIV rate continues to climb at terrifying rates for African Americans, and suicides continue to soar for teens and young adults around the world. According to the Centers of Disease Control, in 2007, African Americans accounted for 46 percent of people living with HIV infection, and approximately 233,624 Blacks died from AIDS.

AIDS is the third leading cause of death for both Black men and women ages 35-44.

For teens and young adults, the statistics are even more discouraging. Ciara Thomas, a writer for www.HealthyPlace.com (America’s Mental Health Channel), stated that gay teens account for one-third of teens who commit suicide. With countless teens and African Americans falling prey to premature deaths and disease, Terry Angel Mason, an international author, speaker, advocate for HIV sufferers and minister who overcame full-blown AIDS and cancer 10 years ago, decided to dedicate his life to saving youth and African Americans from self-destructive habits and choices.

“I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 29. Doctors found that it was lodged into my kidneys and I had to have one removed. I had to go through chemotherapy, causing me to lose all of my hair, and I had gotten down to only 90 pounds. Chemotherapy is not an easy process to go through, and I ended up stopping a year early. I just told my doctors I couldn’t do it anymore and they advised against it, but I had to believe that God would restore me to health, and He did. My cancer has been in remission ever since, and I am 54 years old now.”

At 41, Mason found himself in a doctor’s office again, but this time he was not being diagnosed with HIV, but full-blown AIDS. According to the Oxford Journal, a normal T-cell count can range from 500 to 1,500 for a healthy person, and when the count nears 350 the sufferer needs to undergo HIV treatment. Mason’s T-cell count was 90.

After getting assistance from the Neighborhood House Association in San Diego, Mason was able to meet with doctors at the UC San Diego Medical Center and was put on a strict regimen of medication that kept him sick for some time. At one point Mason was also struggling with pneumocystis pneumonia and shingles. With time, he began to see extreme improvement and his T-cell count increased to 500. When he was last checked a couple months ago his count was 900.

The entire ordeal was a taxing process, but Mason credits the experience for enabling him to reach out to so many people. During the time he was in treatment he established a very effective HIV ministry and prison HIV program.

Since then Mason has been named Real Health magazine’s HIV Advocate of the Month, credited for saving thousands of lives through his commitment to HIV awareness and prevention strategies. Mason believes the key to saving youth involves love, tolerance and support. “We are losing our young people in massive quantities, all because we refuse to support and embrace our youth who are crying out and have nowhere to turn. Many are turning to suicide or engage in risky sexual behaviors that put them at risk for a host of life-threatening diseases, especially HIV. In order to save our young people, we must make them our priority, and decide to show them love and acceptance regardless of their HIV status or sexual orientations,” declares Mason.

After realizing that youth, HIV-positive people, and homosexual African Americans continue to be marginalized by churches around the country and ostracized from family and friends, Mason wrote and self-published, “Love Won’t Let Me Be Silent,” an empowering guide with unique tools and strategies to help parents, families, ministers, teachers and community leaders effectively understand and support teens young adults, and people infected with HIV/AIDS. The book has earned Mason numerous accolades, including a submission for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, and international distribution deal, an unheard of accomplishment for any self-published author.

Mason admits that getting his message into churches wasn’t an easy task, noting that some religious leaders feared that he was trying to preach a gay agenda. “I don’t have a gay agenda,” he said. “I have an agenda to ensure equal rights for all people. I love all people. I hate all forms of discrimination. When people, especially youth are rejected from their communities and families they are much more at risk than if we embraced and supported them.”

Mason touched on all of these topics in “Love Won’t Let Me Be Silent” and will revisit these themes and more in his new book, “They Say That I Am Broken,” which is slated to be released this month.

Mason has helped pastors and parents around the country deal with homosexual children and has helped many young adults face their battle with low self-esteem and sexual identity. He hopes that his work continues to bring people together and save lives.

For more information on Terry Angel Mason, visit his website at www.terryangelmason.com.