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FOR RELEASE: February 2, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day is February 7

Many African Americans in Oklahoma think of HIV/AIDS as some far away disease that won’t ever affect them. But reality is that about one in four of all new cases of HIV in Oklahoma are among African Americans, according to health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

This year marks the Fourth Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness & Information Day. It is co-founded by five national organizations and funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Our major objectives are to encourage people to get tested for HIV and know their status. We also encourage everyone to get educated as to what is happening with HIV/AIDS in your local community and to ask about the ways that everyone can get involved in preventing this devastating disease,” said OSDH HIV/AIDS Service Chief, William R. Pierson.

African Americans represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for more than 38 percent of the nation’s AIDS cases, according to CDC. In 2002, HIV was the number one cause of death for African-Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 in the United States.

“We encourage everyone to ask their doctor, county health department, AIDS Service organizations, or contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health for more information on HIV and how to prevent it. The basis of prevention is still education,” said Pierson.

For more information, contact Michelle Green-Gilbert at 405/271-4636, call the toll-free statewide hotline at 800-535-AIDS, or for general information about HIV/AIDS, view the OSDH Web site at http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/hivstd/index.html.

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