FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KDHE Office of Communications
TOPEKA, Kan. –National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Feb. 7, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) joins this observance by encouraging testing among Blacks and African Americans in Kansas. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a national community mobilization initiative designed to encourage HIV prevention. The theme this year is “Our ancestors fought that we might be free – even from HIV!"
African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Despite representing only 13.6 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, 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 2010, yet accounted for approximately 34 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, KDHE Director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention. “For 2011, too many 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 have less likelihood of keeping their immune systems healthy long term. Testing is crucial for people who are engaging in behaviors that can transmit HIV. Knowing your HIV status is critical.”
Kansans can find free testing at many local health departments and community-based organizations by visiting www.hivtest.org. Kansas statute 65-6007 requires that an anonymous test site be available within 100 miles of any resident of the state. Information about testing sites directly supported by KDHE is identified at: http://www.kdheks.gov/sti_hiv/sti_services.htm.
Here are some of the events planned in Kansas to commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:
Good Samaritan Project will be hosting an event at the Kansas City, Kansas Community College in Room 2325 on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will provide free rapid HIV testing, interactive activities to support safer sex behaviors, an HIV/STD presentation, safer sex kits, giveaways and refreshments.
The Douglas County AIDS Project will provide free rapid HIV testing and HIV/AIDS information on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the KU Kansas Union on the 4th floor. Community members and students are encouraged to stop by.
Positive Connections (formerly Topeka AIDS Project) is partnering with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to provide free rapid HIV testing in the Washburn University Student Union on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. They will provide information about HIV and STDs, have experts available to talk about sexual health and risk reduction, and will offer fun “Greater Than AIDS” giveaways to commemorate the event. Anyone who stops by the informational table can have their photos taken for Positive Connections’ “Facing AIDS” campaign against HIV/AIDS stigma.
For more information on the Kansas HIV/AIDS program, go to http://www.kdheks.gov/sti_hiv/ or contact Travis Barnhart, HIV Prevention Program Manager, at 785-296-1037. Want to learn more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day? Visit www.nationalblackaidsday.org.