Florida State University (FSU) held a Red Alert Fashion show and informational on Feb. 7 at the FSU Health Services Center to help students feel comfortable approaching the subject of getting tested, while celebrating National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
To name a few, affiliates like the Bond Community Center, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness (CHAW) joined the conversation with helpful tips and products for those who attended the event.
“We put on this fashion show to bring awareness and prevention methods out in the community,” said Kiara Dale, the early intervention consultant at DOH. “Sometimes a lot of people don’t know or they have misinformation about HIV and AIDS, so having these events puts the message out in a fun way,” she continued.
According to the federal government’s leading source about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hiv.gov, more than 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and one in seven of those people do not know. In 2016, African-Americans accounted for 12 percent of the population, but represented 44 percent of HIV cases.
Unlike autoimmune diseases where the immune system is over active, with the human immunodeficiency virus, the body’s immune system is underactive. After too much damage to the immune system, the body loses its ability to fight off opportunistic illnesses which results in the most sever phase of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
After visiting the tables set up by the different health organizations between Florida A&M University and FSU, the crowd moved from the Florida State Health Services foyer to the lecture hall.
Among the many organizations, Kappa Psi Psi Healthcare Sorority, Incorporated, sat with their table decorated with pamphlets full of information on how to be responsible for your health. When asked why the healthcare sorority got involved with the event, the FSU Beta Chapter member Laura Florestal had a hand full of good reasons.
“We got involved with this event because HIV and AIDS is something that people don’t really discuss, and when it is talked about, it’s kind of awkward,” Floresral explained. “The fact that we are here and the topic is out in the open and people are wanting to learn about the stigmas of this disease makes the conversation less awkward.”
As the crowd settled into their seats, the seminar started with a few words of advice on a video about having a conversation with your partners about HIV.
After the video, the program focused on a fashion show collaboration between Images Modeling Troupe, Inc. and Faces Modeling Troupe, Inc. The two incorporated scenes where they wore all red to acknowledge the awareness of HIV and AIDS in the Black community.
The games consisted of mini fashion shows with the crowd, a few singing selections and a competition that tested the proper way to apply a condom. Everyone laughed and cheered for the games and the show, but the attention was focused on the screen when “Three Women” by His Poet was presented by the DOH representative Kiara Dale.
The piece explored the real-life possibilities of one person dealing with another that secretly has multiple partners. Each woman in the spoken word contracts HIV from the man that ties them all together. In association with the events purpose, the message lingered. “The best way to know your status is to get tested.” said Dale just as the show came to a close.
Participation awards were given to each of the talents and healthcare centers that attended the event for awareness. Final remarks were given by the Minority AIDS Coordinator of DOH, and free HIV testing was provided outside of the lecture hall.
If you or someone you know would like to know your status, free testing with same day results is provided in the FAMU student health clinic.