Written by Tri-State Defender
Saturday – officially speaking – is World Aids Day, with local observances scheduled before, on and after the Dec. 1 designation.
World AIDS Day quite simply is a recognized time for individual and collective reflection on the impact of HIV in the United States and around the world.
In "Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors Among Youths-United States," The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes sobering information amplifying the need for African Americans to be fully committed to spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS.
About 50,000 people get HIV each year and young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent about a quarter of the new HIV infections (26 percent). The majority of youth living with HIV are unaware they are infected. Young gay and bisexual men and African Americans are the most affected. Nearly 60 percent of new infections among youth occur in African Americans, about 20 percent in Hispanics/Latinos and about 20 percent in whites.
World AIDS Day events in the Memphis area include:
Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and the City of Memphis Office of Youth Services will host the 2nd Annual World AIDS Day event at 4 p.m. at 1141 S. Barksdale at the Glenview Community Center.
Speakers and local organizations will address topics to raise awareness, commemorate those who have died, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
Nicole Becton of Nicole Becton Ministries is the scheduled speaker.
Participating local organizations include the Shelby County Health Department, Caritas Village, Church Health Center, Friends for Life, Mid-South AIDS Fund, Planned Parenthood, South Memphis Alliance and UT Health Sciences University Clinic.
According to the Shelby County Health Department, Shelby County is home to less than 15 percent of the state's residents, but the rate of HIV infection within Shelby County was twice as high as the national rate in 2008.
"While advances in the treatment of HIV and AIDS continue, there is still much work to be done in Memphis and Shelby County," said James Nelson, special assistant to the Mayor, Office of Youth Services. "And while the number of new AIDS cases has declined over the last year, it's important to remember those who continue to battle this disease."
In collaboration with Memphis City Schools and Well Child, Inc., the Shelby County Health Department will conduct STD screenings for students at Northside High School from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Health Dept. & MCS
The Shelby County Health Department in conjunction with Memphis City Schools will host its annual World AIDS Day Program from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Kingsbury High School Auditorium, 1270 Graham Street.
The event will include an awards ceremony recognizing the recipients of the Light of Hope Award. The award is presented to a business, individual and organization having "consistently exhibited a strong desire to assist and/or support HIV/AIDS care, education and prevention efforts in Shelby County."
In collaboration with Memphis City Schools and Well Child, Inc., the Shelby County Health Department will conduct STD screenings for students at South East Prep from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Faith and AIDS Conference: Christ Missionary Baptist Church will host a Faith and AIDS Conference on World AIDS Day – Dec. 1 – in partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis Ryan White Program and Mid-South AIDS Fund. (See Religion, page 8.)
Party in Red: A fitness party at Bert Ferguson Community Center, 8505 Trinity Road.
Le Bonheur Community HIV Network: A World AIDS Day observance at Mississippi River Greenbelt Park
South Memphis Alliance (SMA) joins the world for World AIDS Day from 10 a.m. –to 2 p.m. at the Towne Center at Soulsville USA, 915 East McLemore Avenue. SMA will focus on raising awareness, offering prevention, treatment and care options.
'KNOW NOW. LIVE LONGER.'
The Memphis Transitional Grant Area (TGA) Ryan White Program and faith leaders have joined together, with the support of Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr., to bring World AIDS Sunday to the Mid-South on Dec. 2.
Memphis area churches will unite to educate their members about HIV/AIDS and address the critical community health issue in their respective places of worship. Faith leaders will share the message of "Know Now. Live Longer." with their congregations, encouraging members to learn more about HIV/AIDS and the care and services available to the community through the Memphis TGA Ryan White Program.
"Know Now. Live Longer." is an awareness campaign launched by the Memphis TGA Ryan White program in 2010 to encourage HIV-positive individuals to seek care. Knowing one's HIV status allows him or her to get the treatment needed to live a healthy life with HIV.
There is a World AIDS Sunday toolkit available for download at www.hivmemphis.org/resources/WAS for churches interested in more information on getting involved with the World AIDS Sunday initiative.
"The support of our faith community is crucial to our fighting a good fight against the rise of HIV/AIDS in the Mid-South," said Luttrell said. "We need to keep spreading the message to get tested, know your status and seek care. Our Ryan White Program is an excellent resource for anyone who needs care and support for HIV/AIDS.
"It is critical that the members of our community keep raising awareness of this disease and its impact on the Mid-South, and it is gratifying to see faith leaders come together to combat HIV/AIDS."
Last year's World AIDS Sunday brought together more than 115 congregations in the region to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.
The 24th Ecumenical Healing Service for the Memphis Community; Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 North Second St.
BRIEFLY: Through November – eat, drink and give back; Dine at South of Beale, Memphis' first gastro pub and donate to the Mid-South AIDS Fund.
BRIEFLY: In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Health Department will offer free confidential HIV counseling and rapid testing in December. Additionally, free STD treatments during December will be offered at the following locations between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.: Packer Clinic, 814 Jefferson Ave., Room 221; Cawthon Public Health Clinic, 1000 Haynes St.