For Immediate Release
Barbara Hersh, 785-368-8053
TOPEKA, Kan. – In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) encourages testing among Blacks and African Americans in Kansas. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Feb. 7 and is a national community mobilization initiative designed to encourage HIV prevention. The theme this year is “I am My Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS."
African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Despite representing only 14 percent of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in that year. African Americans represented 6 percent of the population in Kansas in 2009 yet accounted for nearly 30 percent of all new HIV infections in the State for the same year.
KDHE wants Kansans to take action through education, prevention and testing to help stop the spread of HIV.
“The first step in preventing HIV from becoming AIDS is to be tested and be tested early,” said Brenda Walker, Director of KDHE’s Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention. “In 2010, 57 percent of the newly diagnosed HIV cases in Kansas were also AIDS diagnoses. Those who first learn of their HIV status when they already have AIDS are less likely to keep their immune systems healthy long term. Testing is crucial for people who are at risk for acquiring HIV.”
“Knowing your HIV status is critical,” said Walker.
Kansans can find free testing at many local health departments and community-based organizations by visiting www.hivtest.org. One of the events planned to commemorate this awareness day is in Lawrence – The Douglas County AIDS Project will offer free, confidential HIV testing in the Kansas Union at KU on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Testing will occur in Alcove E on the third floor. For more information, contact Olivia Burchett at 785-843-0040.
Want to learn more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day? Visit www.nationalblackaidsday.org.