FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KDHE Contact: Miranda Steele, 785-296-5795
TOPEKA, Kan. – Several organizations in the state's metropolitan areas will host events in March to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and encourage action.
The events are being held in recognition of these upcoming observances: National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is March 3-9; National Women and Girls’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 10; and National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 20. Communities commemorate these observances to raise awareness that HIV and AIDS affect people from all demographics, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
KDHE wants Kansans to take action through education, prevention and testing to help stop the spread of HIV. Knowing your HIV status now and getting proper healthcare if you are HIV-positive is much better than finding out too late, according to Brenda Walker, KDHE Director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention.
“The first step in preventing HIV from becoming AIDS is to be tested and be tested early,” said Walker. “In recent years, 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.”
Following is a listing of several HIV/AIDS awareness events occurring in Kansas:
National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS
Kansas City Metro – The Calvary Community Outreach Network, partnering with multiple community providers, is coordinating a lineup of events throughout the week of March 3-9. Events include a production of the play The Lot, featuring a guest appearance by Jamal Rogers, finalist on The Voice; a TIPS (Taking It to the Pews) Revival; special nights for HIV-positive men and women; and a parade of healing, a health resource fair, youth games, and clergy basketball game. For more information, please visit www.ccon-kc.org.
Topeka – On March 3, Positive Connections staff will give a short presentation during regular church services at both the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Topeka and St. John AME Church of Topeka. Free rapid HIV testing will be offered after the service at MCC, and donations will be collected at both churches for Positive Connections’ food pantry. For more information, please contact Positive Connections at 785-232-3100.
Wichita – The Wichita HIV Faith Collaborative, made up of local churches and organizations, is hosting a lineup of events throughout the week of March 3-9, including specific nights focused on youth, senior citizens, men and women, and a gospel concert. For more information, contact the Wichita Faith Collaborative at 316-304-2855 or 316-681-3954.
Women and Girls’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Kansas City Metro – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, partnering with multiple community providers, is hosting an awareness event featuring keynote speaker Jannis Evans from the State of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at the Robert J. Mohart Community Center, 3200 Wayne Street, Kansas City, Missouri, on March 7 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Community partners will provide health screenings, free confidential HIV testing, and health information during the event. For questions and to RSVP, please contact Angela Williams at 816-426-3296 by March 1.
Topeka – Women Empowerment, Inc., has partnered with Positive Connections, the YWCA, Washburn’s To Write Love on Her Arms, the Washburn University Health Department and the Shawnee County Health Agency to host an event called “Your Moment” (a women’s health fair) on March 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Washburn University Student Union. The partnering agencies will provide free confidential HIV testing, depression screenings and health information. Community members and students are welcome to stop by and are encouraged to wear their flashiest red shoes to raise visibility and awareness about HIV in women and girls. For more information, contact Women Empowerment at 785-215-8202 or Positive Connections at 785-232-3100.
Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Topeka Area – The Kansas AIDS Education and Training Center (KAETC), in partnership with the KU School of Medicine – Wichita, Positive Connections, and the Douglas County AIDS Project, will host a dinner program at the Prairie Band Potawatomi Casino and Resort Conference Center on March 20 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The program is open to all health care providers and tribal leaders interested in how HIV impacts native communities. Continuing Education credit is available. For more information, please contact KAETC at 316-293-2682.
For further information about HIV/AIDS awareness events in Kansas, please contact Travis Barnhart, HIV Prevention Program Manager at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, at 785-296-1037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find HIV counseling and testing sites near you at http://www.hivtest.org.