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For Release: February 26, 2010
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications 
(405) 271-5601

March Highlights HIV/AIDS Health Awareness Activities

March is a month full of opportunities to increase understanding and awareness of HIV/AIDS, a disease that disproportionately affects certain groups of people, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) HIV/STD Service. Through efforts both nationally and locally, three events will be observed in March: National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS (NWPHA March 7-13), National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10), and National Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 20). These events increase awareness about the extreme effects of HIV/AIDS in their community.

NWPHA is March 7-13.  NWPHA unites all people of faith with purpose and hope to promote HIV/AIDS prevention through education, spiritual insight and HIV testing.  The local observation is as follows:

  1. A free benefit concert will be held Sunday, March 7, at the Mayflower United Church of Christ, 3901 NW 63rd Street in Oklahoma City, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The concert will serve as a kickoff to the NWPHA with proceeds going to purchase medications for those in Haiti with HIV.  The concert includes many community choirs, musicians and scheduled speaker State Sen. Constance Johnson. The event is sponsored by Mayflower UCC, UCAN, Inc., One Great Hour of Sharing, Other Options, Inc., Cimarron Alliance Foundation, Guiding Right, Inc. and the KOC UCC Justice and Witness Commission.  For more information contact Loyce Newton-Edwards at (405) 642-0124 or loycee@sbcglobal.net.  

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Wednesday, March 10.    The theme is “Every 35 minutes a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States.  It’s time to get tested.”  The campaign encourages women and girls to get tested.  In 2005, women represented 26 percent of new AIDS diagnoses, compared to only 11 percent of new AIDS cases reported in 1990.  Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual contact and injection drug use.  Women of color are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.  AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25 to 34.  In Oklahoma, black females accounted for 44.6 percent of the total female HIV/AIDS cases in 2007.

  1. This year Guiding Right, Inc. (GRI) in collaboration with the OSDH, the Young Women’s Christian Association  (YWCA) and Langston University will hold an educational health fair entitled, “Totally You: The College Experience” on Wednesday, March 10.  It will be held at the main campus for Langston University located on Highway 3 in Langston at the C.F. Gayles Field House from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The health fair’s primary focus will promote HIV/AIDS awareness and encourage HIV testing.  Counselors from GRI will be available in the health clinic during that time to provide rapid HIV counseling and testing.  The fair will also address nutrition and disseminate information about domestic violence. The event is expected to reach more than 100 African American women ages 18 and older in a non-traditional setting. For additional information, contact Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771 or njohnson@guidingright.org.

National Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Saturday, March 20.  HIV is affecting thousands of American Indians and Alaskan Natives.  These groups have the third highest infection rates in the United States, despite having the smallest population.  This HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will challenge Native people to create a greater awareness of the risks of HIV/AIDS in their communities, to reflect on those who have passed, and those who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS; to call for increased resources for testing and early detection; and to seek support for increasing treatment and care options.

  1. The Health Education Department of Lawton Indian Hospital, the Association of American Indian Physicians, and the Oklahoma Native American AIDS Coalition will host their second annual retreat on Saturday, March 20, at St. Crispin’s, 36302 State Highway 9 in Wewoka, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Presenters for the event are Shana Cozad, Pamela Iron, MS-NIWHRC, John Hawk Co-Cke’ and Freda Carpitcher, MPH.  Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.  To register, contact Gloria Zuniga or Kelly Gordon at (405) 946-7072. This event is sponsored by The Lawton Service Unit and Association of American Indian Physicians. 

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