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‘If we are not infected, we are affected’

AIDS-day-1The corner of Elvis Presley and Kerr was the site as the Cocaine Alcohol Awareness Program (CAAP, Inc.) and First Impressions Remix Barber Shop intersected with other community-based organizations to bring STD/HIV testing, food and fun, and door prizes to the community.

A simple swab has changed the way individuals can be tested for HIV today, with the portability of the testing making it more convenient to serve individuals wherever they are.

Many in the community know CAAP, Inc. as an alcohol and drug treatment facility and First Impressions Remix Barber Shop as a gathering place for a makeover. However, the operators of each are aware that the individuals they serve have other needs and that knowing one's HIV status can be the beginning of meeting those needs. CAAP, Inc. has made the event a priority for the past four years, with plans of continuing the services throughout Memphis/Shelby County.

At the June 23 gathering – held to raise awareness about National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday (June 27) – about 300 individuals (children and adults) were served.

"If we are not infected, we are affected," said a participant who lost a child to AIDS.

AIDS-day-2According to data from the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, 325 new HIV cases were diagnosed among Shelby County residents in 2010. The majority of new infections were male, non-Hispanic black individuals and ranged between the ages of 20 and 44. A total of 181 new AIDS diagnoses were reported among Shelby County residents in 2010.

In addition to CAAP, Inc. and First Impressions Remix, the collaboration for last Saturday's event included the Memphis Ryan White Program, CFS, Friends for Life, Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, PEAS Inc., Planned Parenthood, Project Hope, the Shelby County Health Department, SMA, and the University of Memphis.

(Testing or an educational session for your group or community is available by calling CAAP, Inc. at 901-261-7505.)

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