VALDOSTA – While COVID remains at the forefront of many American’s minds, it is also important to not forget those who are fighting other viruses. The Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District Adult Health Promotion program wants to bring awareness to those fighting HIV and AIDS through their annual World AIDS Day luncheon. This year’s theme is “Unmasking HIV in the Midst of COVID-19.”
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.
This year’s event will be held Friday, December 4 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Patterson, 101 North Patterson Street.
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 while still taking precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19.
COVID-19 precautions during the event include: maintaining social distancing throughout the event, contactless electronic registration, boxed to-go lunch options as well as sanitation stations on site. Masks will be required during throughout the event.
The luncheon will include remarks from a featured speaker as well as a fashion show.
“We understand that COVID-19 is still very present in our communities, however we feel it is important that we still recognize and bring awareness to those whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS ,” said Althea Daniels, Healthcare Program Consultant Supervisor for South Health District. “With the individuals we work with every day, we are more aware than most of the importance of taking extra steps to protect one another’s health. This event will offer a way to recognize the hard battle each of the individuals are facing, while still maintaining the necessary precautions to protect everyone in attendance.”
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 percent of all new HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC.
“We hope this event will offer a way for individuals within our district to learn more about HIV/AIDS,” said Sharah Denton, prevention program manager with South Health District. “Education and outreach are the most important tools we have as public health to help end not only the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, but also the stigma that can be associated with it.”
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. Call your local health department to schedule your appointment. 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.
To learn more or register to attend the World AIDS Day Luncheon, please visit www.southhealthdistrict.com/hiv.