DPH paints the city red for AIDS awareness
VALDOSTA – The Southern Health District infectious disease program “Paint the City Red” to raise awareness for World AIDS Day 2022.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV today, and only 1 in 7 know it. The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Health District Infectious Diseases Program wants to raise awareness for those fighting HIV and AIDS by “painting the town red” and recognizing World AIDS Day 2022.
World AIDS Day is a global health event recognized annually on December 1. This recognition offers people around the world the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for those living with HIV/AIDS and commemorate those who have passed away.
The theme for this year’s events is “Painting the City Red”. Red ribbons have become the recognized symbol of AIDS awareness. According to UNAIDS, in 1991 a group called Visual AIDS “came together to design a visual symbol showing compassion for people living with HIV and their caregivers. Inspired by the yellow ribbons honoring American soldiers who served in the Gulf War, the artists chose to create a red ribbon to symbolize support and solidarity for people living with HIV and to remember those who died of AIDS-related illnesses. The color red was chosen for its “connection with blood and the idea of passion – not just anger, but love, like a Valentine’s Day”, explain the founders of the project. The project was to become known as the Red Ribbon Project.
This year, the South Health District will host its World AIDS Day Luncheon on Friday, December 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Turner Center of the Arts, 527 North Patterson Street, Valdosta. The guest speaker for lunch will be Dr. Brian Palmer.
In addition to the annual luncheon, the Infectious Diseases Program also hosts a Paint the Town Red Paint night. The paint party will be held on Friday, December 2 at Different Strokes Paint and Art Studio, 113 N. Ashley Street in Valdosta. The party will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Space is limited, so registration is encouraged.
“We are excited to expand our events this year and provide multiple outreach opportunities,” said Angela Varnadore, South Health District prevention program manager. “The South Health District understands that awareness and education are our most powerful tools in addressing public health crises like HIV/AIDS. We hope everyone will join us as we paint the city red with HIV/AIDS awareness, not just in December but throughout the year.
All county health departments in the Southern Health District (Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift, and Turner) offer free HIV testing. Call your local health department to make an appointment. The Southern Health District now offers PrEP services to the Lowndes County Health Department and has a PrEP navigator on site to provide assistance. PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis that uses anti-HIV drugs to prevent HIV-negative people who are at high risk of getting HIV from becoming infected.
To register to attend the luncheon or paint party, visit www.southhealthdistrict.com/hiv.