Hoop themed event to raise awareness about HIV / AIDS

The annual celebration of National Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day takes place on Friday. It takes place on February 7th every year.

In one program, sponsored by the nonprofit Mother Wit Institute of Georgia Blackmon, Reverend Rufus L. Wood of Panama City will be the keynote speaker during a 6 p.m. program at Mount Canaan Baptist Missionary Church at 500 E Moreno St., Pensacola.

Saturday will feature the inauguration Who has the game Wellness fair. The event is presented – in part – by the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, where HIV and AIDS awareness among African Americans is a priority.

“African Americans are overrepresented when we start looking at new cases and the cases that we currently have,” said Kenneth Griffin, early intervention and prevention training consultant for Zone 1, which includes Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Escambia, where his office is located.

“African Americans make up about 20% of the population of Escambia County. But, if you look at infections in relation to HIV, African Americans tend to account for over 40% to maybe sometimes 60% of these new cases. “

Due to education and testing efforts, the four-year trend from 2014 to 2018 shows a 36% decrease in HIV incidence among blacks in Escambia.

According to Griffin, this is progress, but not enough.

“In 2020, we still have too many cases of new HIV, because how long have we been dealing with this epidemic, almost 50 years, and we still have people who contract HIV,” he said. -he declares. “HIV is a behavioral epidemic, but we always see more cases, I think, than we should have. “

The high rate of infection among African Americans extends locally at state and national levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, blacks made up 13% of the U.S. population, but 42% of the nearly 38,000 (37,832) new HIV diagnoses nationwide.

The first National Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) was celebrated in 1999 with the aim of raising awareness of HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment in communities of color. The theme for 2020 is “We’re in this, together”.

When planning the annual celebration, Griffin emphasized the importance of the timing and type of event being offered.

“February is Black History Month,” Griffin noted. “Also, we wanted to come up with some type of activity or program that would appeal to African Americans.”

Credit Florida Department of Health in Escambia County

Based on these factors, Griffin says they decided to hold their Inaugural Who has the game Wellness Expo to be held on Saturday February 8 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Brownsville Community Center, 3200 West DeSoto Street.

The event will focus on a few exhibition basketball games.

“We’ll have designs, donating items like 32-inch TVs, a flat screen, a smart TV, a few kids’ bikes, and an adult bike,” Griffin said.

In addition, more than 25 providers will provide services such as blood pressure checks, hepatitis A and influenza vaccines.

Baptist Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, and Community Health Northwest Hospital will provide free medical examinations. Community organizations Oasis and AIDS Healthcare Foundation will provide HIV testing.

“It’s important to know your status,” Griffin proclaimed.

“If you have been infected or exposed to HIV, the sooner we can get treatment for you, the better the prognosis for your future.

As they receive care and take medication, their viral load goes down and the virus in their body becomes undetectable.

“They are still HIV positive,” Griffin explained. “They still have the potential to infect someone, but it’s much more difficult. So if we lower the viral load of that person, we lower the viral load of the community. “

Proactive measures, such as condom use, are most important. But, improved treatments include daily use of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis pills to reduce the chances of getting HIV for people at high risk. PEP drugs are available after potentially be exposed to HIV.

Over the years, HIV testing has also improved. Home test kits are now available on the website: www.knowyourstatus.com.

Rapid HIV testing, which provides same-day results, will be available at Who has the game Wellness Expo, the hoop-themed event in honor of National Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day on Saturday at the Brownsville Community Center.

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