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In Memphis and elsewhere, the mission continues

The 11th Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, is a day that is designed to encourage African Americans across the United States and Territorial Areas to get educated, get tested, get treated and get involved with HIV/AIDS. On Friday (Feb. 4), Project H.O.P.E. /St. Andrew A.M.E. Church, Shelby County Health Department, Clear Channel Communications, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/Know Your Sickle Cell Status, along with a host of other Memphis & Shelby County healthcare service providers will observe the 11th Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

This is a day that is designed to encourage African Americans across the United States and Territorial Areas to get educated, get tested, get treated and get involved with HIV/AIDS, as it continues to devastate African-American communities.

By race/ethnicity, African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV in the United States. At the end of 2007, blacks accounted for almost half (46 percent) of people living with a diagnosis of HIV infection in the 37 states and five U.S. dependent areas with long-term, confidential, name-based HIV reporting. In 2006, blacks accounted for nearly half (45 percent) of new infections in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Even though new HIV infections among blacks overall have been roughly stable since the early 1990s, compared with members of other races and ethnicities they continue to account for a higher proportion of cases at all stages of HIV—from new infections to deaths.

In 2006, black men accounted for two-thirds of new infections (65 percent) among all blacks. The rate of new HIV infection for black men was six times as high as that of white men, nearly 3 times that of Hispanic/Latino men, and twice that of black women. In 2006, the rate of new HIV infection for black women was nearly 15 times as high as that of white women and nearly 4 times that of Hispanic/Latina women.

Like other communities, African Americans face a number of challenges that contribute to the higher rates of HIV infection.

Sexual risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, with a partner who also has other sex partners, or with persons at high risk for HIV infection can be common in some communities.

Injection drug use can facilitate HIV transmission through the sharing of unclean needles. Casual and chronic substance users may be more likely to engage in unprotected sex under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

African Americans continue to experience higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than any other race/ethnicity in the U.S. The presence of certain STDs can significantly increase the chance of contracting HIV infection. A person who has both HIV infection and certain STDs has a greater chance of infecting others with HIV.

The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty, including limited access to quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education, directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with HIV.

For the tenth consecutive year, Project H.O.P.E. (HIV/AIDS Outreach Prevention & Education) will lead a group of local organizations and services agencies as host for a city-wide testing event scheduled for Friday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. at St. Andrew A.M.E. Church Community Life Center located at 1472 Mississippi Blvd.

Activities will include;

• FREE confidential HIV testing & counseling by the Shelby County Health Department from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. – a $10 gift card will be presented to the first one hundred (100) individuals to be tested.

• FREE STD testing for syphilis, gonorrhea, syphilis and Chlamydia.

• FREE flu-shots!

• FREE Health Screenings (Blood pressure, glucose & sickle cell trait) provided by various other healthcare organizations.

• Clear Channels V101.1 LIVE! Remote broadcast, featuring Stan Bell from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

• Open Mic Nite/LIVE entertainment hosted by V101.1’s “Aisha Raison”.

• Food, fun, door prizes will be available throughout the event!

This year’s “Open Mic” will again feature local R & B Artist “Mr. Sam”! And a very special appearance and performance by former “American Idol” contestant Lil Rounds! Also scheduled to appear: “Poetically Nappy” Michelle Montgomery, Memphis Academy of Science & Engineering Gospel Choir, Out Loud Artistry and more!

Sponsors includes; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/Connect2Protect, Memphis City Schools, The Regional Med Center/Adult Special Care Center, South Memphis Alliance, Friends for Life, Corp., Cocaine Alcohol Awareness Program, Inc., Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, Memphis Ryan White Planning Council, Bloomfield Urban Ministries, Mid South Coalition On HIV/AIDS, Methodist Le Bonheur/ Community HIV Network, Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis, United Way of the Mid South, University of Memphis/Department of Psychology, Tipton County Children & Family Services, Memphis Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Benjamin Hooks Job Corp Center, Memphis Health Centers and Black AIDS Memphis.

(For more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2011 in Memphis, call 901-775-2968.)

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