TOPEKA, Kan. - World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment encourages Kansans to participate in any one of the events scheduled for this week and next week in Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita. Event details are listed below.
World AIDS Day is carrying the same theme each year between 2011 and 2015: Getting to Zero – Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. This annual observance provides an opportunity for governments, faith groups, community organizations, businesses and communities to raise awareness and focus attention on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the U.S., 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 impact HIV/AIDS has had on our world. This year, take action through education, prevention and testing to help stop the spread of HIV.
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. Here are some of the events planned in Kansas:
· Healthy Living Projects will provide free confidential rapid HIV testing Thursday, Nov. 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Johnson County Community College in the Regnier Center, at 12345 College Boulevard, Overland Park. For more information please call Christian Watson at 913-708-1414.
· There are several events occurring on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area to commemorate World AIDS Day. Please contact Samantha Hughes at the Kansas City Health Department, 816-513-6268 for more information.
Positive Connections (formerly known as the Topeka AIDS Project), working with leaders from a variety of faith communities, will offer an interfaith service and candlelight memorial beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka, at 4425 SW 19 St., 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 785-232-3100.
Positive Connections will offer free confidential rapid HIV testing and prevention information at The Lofts at College Hill at 1425 SW Lane, Topeka, on Friday, Nov. 30, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. This event is open to the public. For more information please contact Positive Connections at 785-232-3100.
· The KU School of Medicine/KU Midtown, in collaboration with Sedgwick County Health Department, First Metropolitan Community Church, Positive Directions, Hunter Health Clinic, the Kansas AIDS Education and Training Center and The Center, will host a commemorative walk, memorial program, and chili cook-off on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program will include music, speakers and reading of names for people who have lost their lives to AIDS. Chili cook-off money voting donations will go to benefit the Sweet Emergency Fund and Positive Directions. For more information contact Teresa Romey at 316-293-3407.
· The KU School of Medicine/KU Midtown will offer free confidential rapid HIV testing at Wichita State University to students on Monday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information contact Mike Madecky at 316-293-3405.
“The first step in preventing HIV from becoming AIDS is to be tested and be tested early,” said Brenda Walker, KDHE Director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention. “For 2011, too many 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 engaging in behaviors that can transmit HIV. Knowing your HIV status is critical.”
For more information on the Kansas HIV/AIDS program go to http://www.kdheks.gov/hiv/index.html or contact Travis Barnhart, HIV Prevention Program Manager, at 785-296-1037.