Community seeks to counter high black HIV rates with week of events

In connection with the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day there will be a march on the Capitol on Feb. 6.

Life Science of Washington sponsors the Silence Is Death-March for Life event. Participants will assemble at the Civic Center at 8 a.m. There will be free T-shirts and water passed out to participants in the parking lot. The march will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 12 p.m.

“We encourage people to come out to make sure people are educated because silence is death,” said Sheila Morris, a representative from the Leon County Health Department.

Victor Muhammad, coordinator of the Silence Is Death-March for Life, said Tallahassee residents should want to participate in the march considering Florida is ranked as third in the nation for HIV infections.

He also said black females in Florida ranked number one, especially those between the ages of 18-25.

“People are not getting the message.” Muhammad said. “With something that is so considerably dangerous, we are still partying and playing.”

Tanya Tatum, director of student health services, wants students and residents of Tallahassee to understand the purpose of the event. She hopes it will encourage people to see doctors about the disease.

Muhammad stressed the event’s main purpose is to make a statement to Tallahassee that HIV hasn’t gone anywhere and to plead to the state that something needs to be done.

One in 67 blacks and 1 in 232 Hispanics are living with HIV, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Floridians of all colors should participate, especially blacks who are most affected,” Muhammad said.

Speakers at the event will include Mayor John Marks, state congressional leaders and student government leaders from Florida State University and Florida A&M University. The community is encouraged to bring signs that promote awareness about HIV/AIDS.

If residents of the community are unable to attend this event, there will be other activities. The week will be filled with events in which the community can participate.

Starting Monday there will be an event, Condomology, at D&Z’s Café from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Healthy Happy Hour, a non-alcoholic affair, will be held Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 8 pm. FSU will hold a panel discussion in The Moore auditorium Thursday. The finale will be a one-woman show held Friday at 6 p.m. in FAMU’s Lee Hall auditorium.

Sheryl Lee Ralph, an original Dreamgirl, will perform “Sometimes I Cry.” Ralph is known for her roles in “Sister Act” and the sitcom “Moesha.”

The show will emphasize the loves, lives and losses of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

“The admission for FAMU students is free with a valid student ID. All others will have to pay $7,” Tatum said.

Sponsors of these events include the Leon County Health Department, FAMU Life Skills, Big Bend Cares, Leon CHD Minority Health and the Minority Alliance for Advocating Community Awareness and Action, Inc.

For further information concerning these events please visit FAMU student health services or