Black HIV/AIDS awareness in spotlight

Photo credit: Department of Health 


It’s’ almost impossible to overstate how important it is to be aware of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the black community.

The Leon County Florida Department of Health is focused on providing effective resources for affected HIV residents s.
HIV Prevention, DOH-Leon, along with 10 other organizations, partnered with Florida State University on Wednesday in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The Minority AIDS Coordinator, Thomas Risk, said the goal was to shine a positive light on community outreach programs.
 “We are focused on empowering the black community with resources to help diagnose, treat, and prevent the infection of HIV,” said Risk.
Although all races are affected by HIV/AIDS, the occasion concentrated on African Americans to promote awareness throughout the black community.
The event included free and confidential testing for HIV and syphilis along with blood pressure screenings. Members of the community who wore red would receive a free goodie bag in recognition of the effort.
FAMU’s Faces Modeling Troupe headlined the fashion show to support the cause.
Stephanie Colter, a member of Faces, said, “I intend to use our modeling troupe as a way of incentive to bring a larger audience to the AIDS/HIV event. People are then encouraged to learn more about the cause and prevention methods."
According to DOH-Leon, approximately 30 percent of Leon County residents are black. Even so, the department notes, more than 75 percent of new HIV infections reported in the region for the past five years have been in black communities.
In 2016, approximately 1 in 100 black men and women residing on Leon County were living with HIV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans have the greatest prevalence of HIV in the United States.
DOH-Leon is focused on providing solutions for the community by promoting testing and preventative services in the Big Bend. The organization also offers free counseling and discounted medication through special programs.
Risk added, “I am excited for the opportunity to spread awareness and inform members of the black community that they have additional emotional and physical support.”