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For Release: June 15, 2010
Contact:  Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Local Events Announced for National HIV Testing Day, June 27
Early Testing is Emphasized

The HIV epidemic is real and has left its impact on Oklahoma. Without testing, people are unaware of their status and the virus will continue to spread, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), June 27, is an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS to encourage people of all ages to "Take the Test, Take Control."  Early HIV diagnosis is critical so that people who are infected can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments. Currently, almost 40 percent of people living with HIV are not diagnosed until they already have developed AIDS. 

“Awareness of infection is the first step to improving the health of Oklahomans and their families,” notes Jan Fox, chief, OSDH HIV/STD Service.  

According to the OSDH HIV/STD Service, as of Dec. 31, 2009, there were approximately 4,924 people living with HIV/AIDSin Oklahoma. Of these cases, 2,483 were HIV infections and 2,441 were AIDS cases.

In Oklahoma, HIV markedly affects the African American/Black population. While Blacks make up 7.6 percent of Oklahoma’s population, they account for 23.4 percent of HIV/AIDS cases.  Whites account for 76.2 percent of Oklahoma’s population and 60.4 percent of HIV/AIDS cases; Hispanics represent 5.2 percent of the population and account for 7.3 percent of HIV/AIDS cases; and American Indians/Alaskan Natives represent 7.9 percent of the population and 6.3 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in the state.

There are several Oklahoma City events occurring during the weekend of June 25 -27 which highlight the need for early HIV testing.  They include the following:

  • Guiding Right, Inc. (GRI) will begin its Are You Positive You Are Negative (RU+UR-) HIV Testing event on Friday, June 25, and conclude on Sunday, June 27.  Activities will consist of distribution of HIV/AIDS prevention educational materials and HIV testing in multiple locations in the Oklahoma City metro area using a mobile unit. For more information about specific locations, dates and times, please contact Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771 ext. 305 or www.njohnson@guidingright.org.
  • There will be free and confidential HIV testing offered at the Oklahoma City Pride Festival Saturday, June 26, and Sunday, June 27.   Testing Saturday will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Memorial Park, N.W. 35th Street and Classen Boulevard. Sunday, testing will be next to Angles Club, 2117 NW 39th Street as well as at Expressions OKC, 4010 N. Youngs Blvd.  A collaboration between the AIDS Care Fund; Expressions OKC Community Fellowship; Red Rock Behavioral Health Services; RAIN Oklahoma; Guiding Right, Inc.; Red Cross of Central Oklahoma; Other Options, Inc.; Latino Community Development Agency; OSDH, and a host of other community-based organizations will provide the tests and counselors for this event.  For additional information, please contact Chuck Longacre at cblong2002@yahoo.com.
  • In recognition of the church’s role in HIV/AIDS prevention, there will be a Gospel Musical on Sunday, June 27, at the 5th Street Baptist Church, 801 N.E. 5th Street, Oklahoma City, beginning at 6 p.m.  The Vision of Unity and Faith musical will host choirs, praise dancers, and soloists to offer prayer and support for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.  There will be a video highlighting local Oklahoma City citizens and their response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially speaking to what churches can do to assist with prevention.  Testing information will be provided. 

For additional information about these events and other events outside the Oklahoma City metro area, contact Amani Smiley, OSDH HIV/STD Service at (405)271-4636 or email amanil@health.ok.gov.  

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