VALDOSTA – World AIDS Day is a global health event held annually on December 1. The event offers an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for those living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate those who have died.
In recognition of World AIDS Day 2019, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District Adult Health Promotion program will host a forum and luncheon on Friday, November 22. The event will be held from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Patterson, 101 North Patterson Street.
A shuttle will be provided to and from the event. Those wishing to ride the shuttle can be picked up at either Millers Hardware or the McKey Street parking lot.
The event offers an opportunity for our community to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for those living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate those who have died. Keynote speaker for the event will be Masonia Traylor, an HIV/AIDS Activist. There will also be a “Rock the Ribbon” fashion show during the luncheon.
“It is our role as public health to support our communities through public service. We want to offer this luncheon as an opportunity to educate as well as support,” said Althea Daniels, Healthcare Program Consultant Supervisor for South Health District. “Many people in our district aren’t adequately informed about what HIV/AIDS is, how it is spread and the services we offer to support those living with HIV/AIDS. We want to let everyone who is effected by HIV/AIDS know that we support them and are united with them in our fight to end the stigma against HIV/AIDS.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV today, and only 1 in 7 know it. In 2017, African Americans accounted for 43 percent and Hispanic/Latinos accounted for 26 percent of all new HIV diagnoses. Young people aged 13 to 24 are also especially affected by HIV. In 2017, young people accounted for 21% of all new HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC.
“Our hope is that this luncheon will provide education as well as encouragement to those who attend,” said Sharah Denton, prevention program manager with South Health District. “Ending the epidemic as well as the stigma all begins with education and outreach.”
To empower more people of knowing their HIV status, all county health departments within the South Health District (Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner) provide free HIV testing.
South Health District also has a PrEP navigator on-site. PrEP is a pre-exposure prophylaxis that uses anti-HIV medications to keep HIV negative people who are at high risk for contracting HIV from becoming infected.
No appointment is needed, and all facilities are open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.