Bonds Health Community Center (BHCC) encourages its residents to be aware and seek testing on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) on Saturday Feb. 7. In observance of the month of black liberation, the Bonds staff collaborated to celebrated with the community.
This week, BHCC had a series of events to increase awareness in our community all week including HIV/AIDS free testing sites and NBHAAD media day. Their missions of awareness lead up to a block party on the corner of Liberty Street and Paco Street from noon to 4p.m.
The BHCC mobile unit will be featured at the event which is dedicated to free HIV testing, blood pressure testing, health and linkage counseling provided by Bond’s staff members.
In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention presented that African-Americans represent approximately 14 percent of the Unites States population. Furthermore, the CDC reported, African-Americans make up 44 percent of all new HIV infections.
Darius Lightsey, Case Manager from Tallahassee, is new to the BHCC staff. Lightsey, has been employed with the Bond’s community for eight months. He is hopeful that their presence will impress residents on how serious HIV/AIDS is particular to the African-American community.
“It’s always that you want to spread awareness, we need more people to be aware of their status and we want to promote health to advance awareness,” Lightsey said.
Volunteers included motivated students with medical concentrations to provide helping hands to the block party. They brought encouragement and positivity to the party and assisted guests as they lead them to their perspective counselor for further instruction.
Angel Augustine, a medical student at Florida State University from Miami, Fla., wanted to come out to diminish stigmas behind testing and help people get excited about finding out their status.
As Augustine canvassed the community she realized that people will only act in their health’s best interest.
“What I learned is that helping people to tap into things that are important to them, so they see why they want to live will help them realize the motivation for them to actually take control of their health,” Augustine said.
Prior to party time, counselors, case managers, administration and volunteers walked the streets and came together for a common cause.
Tyra Ferguson, a sophomore of Florida A&M University’s Nursing program from Albany, Ga., was moved to get people talking about things that take place in the community.
“People should be more aware of what’s going on around them. This morning when we tried to get people to come, they weren’t really open to it. We should talk to each other and be aware of our status,” Ferguson said.
Various volunteers expressed that this event pushed them to seek participation from the Black community by having personal conversations with friends and speaking with members of their community, don’t want to speak about STD’s — in particular HIV/AIDS.
Martine Saiavilus, medical student at FSU from West Palm, Fla., wants guests to go back and tell their friends how quick and easy knowing your status is.
“They shouldn’t miss out on opportunities presented to them. What I will take with me is to keep going and never stop. Continue to push them and somebody will walk with you and that will continue to pass on,” Saiavilus said.
Attendants commonly agreed that raising awareness in the community in order to diminish misconceptions people have surrounding STD testing is important.
“One thing I learned while being out here is that sometimes stigma or you feeling that you’re invincible can stop you from actually taking advantage of things that are free and won’t take much time,” Augustine said.
For more information about testing, call Bonds Community Health Center, Inc. (850) 576-4073 to speak with a counselor.