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FOR RELEASE: October 11, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

October is National HIV/AIDS Awareness Month – Conference Planned

In recognition of the need for health education for HIV prevention, treatment, and care, Gov. Frank Keating has proclaimed October as National HIV/AIDS Awareness Month in Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys has signed a similar proclamation for Oklahoma City. HIV/AIDS affects Oklahomans of all ages, race/ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations. Statewide an estimated 4,250 people are currently living with HIV or AIDS.

Each year Oklahoma hosts an HIV Conference to provide a forum for service providers, educators, and people living with HIV/AIDS to discuss critical issues related to prevention, treatment and care. This year's 11th Annual Oklahoma HIV Conference is scheduled for Oct. 18-19 at the Westin Hotel in Oklahoma City.

“HIV disease is a serious public health threat,” says William R. Pierson, chief of the state health department's HIV/STD Service. “The HIV Conference provides an opportunity for the education and discussion needed to help reduce the risk of future spread of this infection.”

Pierson said state health officials welcome the participation of other state agencies, community-based organizations, universities, task forces, or other groups interested in working together to help reduce HIV infection in Oklahoma.

The two-day conference will include topics on community level prevention, HIV and women, clinical trials, HIV treatment updates, adhering to complex treatment regimens, assistance programs available, issues surrounding returning to work, TB/AIDS co-infection and more. Mohammed Bilal, former cast member of MTV's “Real World,” who has become a voice for HIV awareness among youth, is the scheduled luncheon speaker. His topic will be “AIDS Awareness: MTV's Real World Reflections.”

Keynote presenters include Donna Sweet, M.D., a prominent Wichita physician, and Seth Kalichman, Ph.D., Associate Professor with the Medical College of Wisconsin's Center for AIDS Intervention Research. Dr. Sweet will speak on “Current Perspectives in HIV Care” and Dr. Kalichman's keynote address will be “What is working in HIV Prevention”. Kalichman is a colleague of Jeffrey Kelly, nationally recognized for his work in models of human behavior change.

The public is invited to attend the two-day conference. Registration is $75, and includes the luncheon Oct. 19. Registration forms are available by contacting the Oklahoma HIV/AIDS Hotline 1-800-535-AIDS V/TDD/TTY or by e-mail at hotline@ionet.net.

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