TOPEKA – Here's the message of World AIDS Day, on December 1st. Everyone should know his or her HIV status.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) encourages Kansans to participate, if possible, in any of the statewide World AIDS Day events. So far, organizers in six Kansas cities have announced to KDHE they are planning events around this observance: Kansas City, Lawrence, Liberal, Manhattan, Topeka and Wichita.
The theme of this year’s observance is “Getting to Zero – Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS-Related Deaths.” World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for governments, faith groups, community organizations and businesses to raise awareness and focus attention on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the United States, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV infection, and one in five of those are unaware of their HIV status. Worldwide, the estimated number of people living with HIV is more than 33 million. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to reflect on the 30-year impact HIV/AIDS has had on our world. This year, take action through education, prevention, and testing to help stop the spread of HIV.
“The first step in preventing HIV from becoming AIDS is to be tested and be tested early,” said Brenda Walker, Director, KDHE’s Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention. “In 2010, 57% of the newly diagnosed HIV cases in Kansas were also AIDS diagnoses. Those who first learn of their HIV status when they already have AIDS have less likelihood of keeping their immune systems healthy long term. Testing is crucial for people who are at risk for acquiring HIV. Knowing your HIV status is critical.”
So, why not get tested for HIV today? You can find free testing at many local health departments and community-based organizations by visiting www.hivtest.org. KDHE also encourages you to participate in the many events planned across the state for World AIDS Day, listed below:
Positive Connections (formerly known as the Topeka AIDS Project), working with leaders from a variety of faith communities and representatives from KDHE, will offer an interfaith service and candlelight memorial beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec.1, at St. John’s AME Church, located at 701 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka. Free rapid HIV testing will be available before and after the service. Food pantry donations for Positive Connections are welcomed and appreciated. For more information on this event please contact Positive Connections at 232-3100.
The Johnson County Health Department and Healthy Living Projects will provide free rapid HIV testing Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Healthy Living Projects, located at 8650 W. 95th Street, Suite 3, Overland Park. For more information please call Tabitha Wagoner at (913) 477-8392 or Christian Watson at (913) 708-1414.
The Douglas County AIDS Project (DCAP) will provide free and confidential HIV testing in the Harter Student Union at Baker University on Wednesday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The address is 615 Dearborn, Ottawa. For more information, please contact Olivia Burchett at 843-0040.
DAP will provide free confidential HIV testing on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the alcoves of the KU Student Union, 1301 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence. Look for the info table in the lobby on the fourth floor. For more information please contact Olivia Bruchett at (785) 843-0040.
In collaboration with the KU Spencer Museum of Art Student Advisory Board, DCAP will offer a free screening of the film The Universe of Keith Haring on Thursday, Dec. 1 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Spencer Art Museum, located at 1301 Mississippi, Lawrence. A candlelight vigil ceremony will follow. The Spencer Museum of Art will also showcase art by KU students and local community artists and attendees will be encouraged to view a special gallery themed as The Changing Face of HIV/AIDS in the US Over the Last 30 Years. Non-perishable food items will be accepted for DCAP’s client food pantry. For more information please contact Olivia Burchett at (785) 843-0040, or the Spencer Museum of Art at (785) 864-4710.
The Riley County-Manhattan Health Department, in collaboration with the K-State Lafene Health Center, KSU’s S.H.A.P.E. Program, KSU’s LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Junction City Teddy Bears, will provide t-shirts, handouts, and information inside the KSU Student Union, 220 K-State Union Bookstore, Manhattan, on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A panel discussion featuring HIV-positive individuals and community providers will occur from noon - 1 p.m. Free HIV testing will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the first 15 people tested will receive a goodie bag. For more information please contact Brandon Haddock at (785) 532-5299 or Jennifer Miller at (785) 776-4779.
The KU School of Medicine/KU Midtown, in collaboration with Sedgwick County Health Department, First Metropolitan Community Church, Positive Directions, Hunter Health Clinic, and the Kansas AIDS Education and Training Center, will hold a candlelight vigil service and commemorative walk on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m., starting at the Wichita Art Museum, 1400 W. Museum Blvd, Wichita and ending at the Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 N. Seneca. A formal program will include music, speakers, and reading of names for people who have lost their lives to AIDS, with refreshments offered afterward. For more information contact Teresa Romey at (316) 293-3407.
Hunter Health Clinic will offer free rapid HIV testing Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at 2318 E. Central, Wichita. For more information contact Vonnie Long at (316) 262-3611 x1173.