AIDing in the fight against HIV

The Eternal Legendary Kings (E.L.K.) hosted an HIV/AIDS carnival at FAMU Park on Friday.

Ackerly Barnett, president of E.L.K., said the purpose of the event was to bring awareness to the Florida A&M community about HIV/AIDS.

According to a 2010 statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks were estimated to be the No. 1 carriers of HIV, with 21,854 new diagnoses that year. Barnett urges more African-Americans to get tested regularly.

“Although we are a faith-based community service group, faith alone is not enough,” Barnett said. “It is crucial to get out and find out your status.”

The event, which lasted from 3-7 p.m., was open to all students, and several organizations dedicated to the cause attended.

Laura Gault, a sophomore pre-nursing student from Tallahassee, spoke on behalf of her organization, Kappa Psi Psi.

“Being that we are a health care sorority, we wanted to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and do what we can to help protect our community,” Gault said. “We are leading by example by getting tested and participating today.”

The main staple of the event was the pink Bond Community Health Center’s portable testing facility that was parked adjacent to the festivities. The center gave free HIV testing, which offered results within 20 minutes.

The process was conducted in an orderly fashion. Participants were given basic information pamphlets and took a pre-screening test. They were also asked to sign a confidentiality consent form and required to do a questionnaire, which featured questions about at-risk behavior prior to taking the test.

Shanice Cooke, a freshman pre-nursing student from Clewiston, Fla. said she was initially reluctant to get tested.

“I feel like it is important in the black community to come,” Cooke said. “But I’m nervous.”

Evandall Williams, the center’s community outreach liaison, insisted students had “nothing to fear.” The blood samples were relatively painless, but Chris Jones, community outreach and transportation volunteer for Bond Community Health Center, said it should not matter.

“Would you rather a few minutes of discomfort or living without knowing your status?” Jones asked. “Get tested.”

For more information about learning your status visit,