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FOR RELEASE: January 31, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahoma Joins Nationwide Response to AIDS Crisis Among African Americans

Oklahoma City and Tulsa are among the more than 100 cities across the United States that will sponsor programs on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Tuesday, Feb. 7. The observance, coordinated by nine national organizations, is planned to call attention to the problem of HIV/AIDS in the African American community, and to seek solutions to halt the epidemic, say officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

“Nationally, African Americans make up approximately 13 percent of the population of the United States, yet almost half of the total AIDS cases reported in this country are among members of the black community. In 2003, more African Americans were reported to have HIV/AIDS than any other racial/ethnic group,” said Michael Harmon, chief, OSDH HIV/STD Service. “In Oklahoma, African Americans represent 7.6 percent of the population, yet they account for 18 percent of people diagnosed with AIDS,” he noted.

Harmon said the main objectives of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day are to move members of the African American community to:
Get tested for HIV and know your status.
Get educated about HIV/AIDS in your local community.
Get involved with your community.
Get treated if you have tested positive for HIV or if you’ve been diagnosed with AIDS.

A variety of events will be held to encourage citizens to get educated, get tested, get treated and get involved to stop HIV/AIDS. For more information about Oklahoma events, contact Pat Kelly, coordinator of public information and special projects, OSDH HIV/STD Service at (405) 271-4636.

For more information about HIV/AIDS please call the HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-535-2437.

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