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FOR RELEASE: November 25, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

World AIDS Day Scheduled for Dec. 1, 2002
Theme is “ Stigma and Discrimination”

Health care professionals at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) are concerned that many people living with HIV/AIDS are not seeking health care due to fear of discrimination in employment, housing and social acceptance. Many people are fearful of being tested for HIV/AIDS, fearful of acknowledging if they have the disease, and fearful of seeking the treatment they need to live a quality life.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, 2002, is “Stigma and Discrimination.” Using this theme, World AIDS Day organizers hope to raise the level of public awareness not to discriminate against or harass those who are infected with HIV/AIDS. The theme will also be used to encourage people to overcome their fears and seek testing and treatment.

“We want to encourage people to break the silence and the barriers to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Only by confronting the stigma and discrimination will the fight against HIV/AIDS be won,” said Michelle Green-Gilbert, OSDH HIV/STD Director of Information and Training Division.

As of November 2002, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported approximately 4,000 cases of AIDS and 2,500 cases of HIV in Oklahoma. The demographics of Oklahomans with AIDS cross every race, religion, sex and social background.

To learn more about HIV/AIDS, and the connection between HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, or to locate a free HIV antibody test site close to you, call the Oklahoma HIV/AIDS Hotline, 1-800-535-AIDS, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and TDD/TTY accessible. All calls are confidential.

For information about local World AIDS Day programs, call Michelle Green-Gilbert at 405-271-4636.

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