February 7, 2013
Suffolk County Joins Nationwide Response to AIDS Crisis Among African Americans
“Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Treated and Get Involved with HIV/AIDS”
Suffolk County will join more than 300 national organizations that will promote programs in February calling attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS in the country’s African American communities and seeking solutions to halt the epidemic.
As part of its ongoing outreach to the minority community, the Department of Health Services’ Office of Minority Health will host National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an event featuring guest speakers and a panel discussion as well as free, confidential, rapid* HIV testing and counseling. Prizes, raffles and food will be provided.
What: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
When: Saturday, February 16, 2013, from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Where: Wyandanch Public Library
14 South 20th Street
Wyandanch NY, 11798
The event will be sponsored by the Suffolk Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. The Urban League of Long Island Young Professionals and a number of community-based organizations will also participate in this day of education, testing, involvement, and treatment.
“Working with our community partners in education and prevention, we aim to encourage community awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day provides us with an opportunity to bring this issue to the forefront,” said County Executive Steve Bellone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans comprised 14 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009. The CDC also cites HIV as the ninth leading cause of death for all blacks and the third leading cause of death for black women and men between the ages of 35 and 44.
“People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for years and may not know they are infected,” said Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner of Health Services. “An HIV test is the only way to find out if you have HIV, so we encourage our residents to take advantage of the free testing we are offering.”
Citing the New York State HIV/AIDS Surveillance Annual Report, Dr. Gregson Pigott, Director of the Office of Minority Health, said, “The rate of newly diagnosed cases of AIDS in Nassau and Suffolk is 15.5 times higher for blacks than it is for whites, and though blacks make up only 7.4 percent of population in Suffolk County and 11.1 percent of the population in Nassau County, they account for 31 percent of those newly diagnosed with HIV on Long Island. This is clearly an issue our community must address.”
For more information about the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event, please call the Office of Minority Health at 631-854-0378.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which began as a grass roots effort in 2006, will be observed nationally today, February 7, 2013.
* Test results are usually available within 20 minutes.