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AIDS Action Committee marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with education, testing

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  February 7, 2013 01:01 PM

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A local non-profit that works to prevent HIV/AIDS and care for people living with the disease is recognizing National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Thursday.

Events are designed to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS in the black community, and by providing free HIV testing.

AIDS Action Committee, a Boston-based organization that advocates for AIDS policies, conducts HIV prevention programs, and provides health and wellness services to those with HIV, is hosting a luncheon presentation at its Jamaica Plain headquarters about HIV prevention and care in the black community.

The 1 p.m. presentation will be led by Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, a CDC-trained epidemiologist and practicing infectious disease physician, who was recently featured in the PBS Frontline documentary “ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America.”

AIDS Action Committee educator Larry Day will also lead a panel discussion about outreach strategies to black men who have sex with men, titled, “Coming Out of the Dark: Embracing the Invisible Black Man.” Panelists include Lonnie McAdoo from the Department of Public Health; Erlinda Bodden from Cambridge Health Alliance; and Tom Bardwell from the Center for Social Innovation and Mass Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.

Cambridge City Councilor Ken Reeves will also speak at the free and public event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cambridge Community Television Studios at 438 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.

“African Americans and other black populations are disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS,” Rebecca Haag, president and CEO of AIDS Action Committee, said in a statement.

According to Haag, of the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, nearly half of them are black. Black Americans represent only 12 percent of the total US population.

AIDS Action currently provides services to one-in-six people in Massachusetts living with a diagnosis of HIV, and 40 percent of the agency’s clients are black.
“That disparity among infections also exists in Massachusetts, where Blacks make up only six percent of the state population, but comprise 29 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS,” Haag said.

The organization is also offering free HIV testing at The MALE Center in the South End from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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