The Dallas Weekly
by Elena Washington
World AIDS Day on 1 December brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day has been proclaimed as an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2011-2015, World AIDS Days will have the theme of “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.” The World AIDS Campaign focus on “Zero AIDS related deaths” signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now. It is a call to honor promises like the Abuja declaration and for African governments to at least hit targets for domestic spending on health and HIV.
It has been more than 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S. HIV is still a reality for more than a million Americans. Nearly one of every five people living with HIV in the U.S. doesn’t know it.
At least two major events are occurring in Dallas to observe World AIDS Day. Dallas County has the highest rate of new HIV infections in Texas, and one of the highest in the U.S.
DALLAS COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES OFFERS FREE TESTING
Dallas County Health and Human Services is offering free HIV testing in observance of World AIDS Day, on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, 5710 East R. L. Thornton Freeway.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 1.7 million people in the U.S. are infected with HIV.
In Dallas County, 14,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS and new cases of HIV/AIDS are increasing in ages 13 to 18 accounting for 3.9% of new diagnosis in 2012. As of 2010, there were 1,848 Black women living with HIV in Dallas. Black women are 71% of the Dallas women living with HIV, but only 22% of the female population in Dallas.
“We want to ensure our citizens know whether they have HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease,” said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson. “Getting tested is the first step followed by medical care.”
Community partners include Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Upsilon Nu Zeta Chapter, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Iota Mu Sigma Chapter. In addition to Free HIV testing, there will also be testing for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. For more information, contact Dallas County Health and Human Services at 214-819-2100.
WORLD AIDS DAY DALLAS EXPO
Repeating last year’s successful event, at the World AIDS Day Dallas Expo event, local businesses, community groups, and residents will gather again at Main Street Garden in downtown Dallas on Saturday, December 1 from 3-6 p.m. The event includes celebratory music, inspirational speakers, and a healthy living expo.
World AIDS Day Dallas focuses on strengthening the public through education, inspiration, and action to empower Dallas to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in their greater community.
AIDS Interfaith Network (AIN) is again hosting and coordinating this year’s event. At least 22 AIDS-related or health services organizations are partnering with them. They include: A Sister’s Gift, AIDS Arms, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, AIDS Walk South Dallas, Bryan’s House, Cathedral of Hope, DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, Home for the Holidays Texas, Kidscapes Foundation, Lambda Legal, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, ONE Campaign, Parkland Client Advisory Board, Razzle Dazzle Dallas, Resource Center Dallas, RESULTS, The Afiya Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center.
For more information about becoming a sponsor or partner, contact Travis Gasper, 214-943-4444, [email protected].