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For Release: Nov. 22, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Oklahoma Agencies Offer HIV/AIDS Testing and Promote Activities for World AIDS Day, Dec. 1

As many as 1,777 people in Oklahoma are estimated to be infected with HIV and are unaware of their status. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining with communities worldwide to promote HIV testing and to put a face to HIV/AIDS through various activities across Oklahoma that recognize Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS, yet 1 out of 5 of those persons do not know they have the disease. OSDH statistics show that by the end of 2010, there were 8,462 cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed among residents of Oklahoma

Around the world and in Oklahoma, there is a stigma toward people living with HIV/AIDS, which could prevent those who may be at risk from being tested for the disease. Additionally, some people do not believe they may be at risk. Correct information about how one becomes infected with HIV, removing the stigma, and promoting the need for increased early testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS can help to prolong lives, prevent transmission of the disease and prevent more deaths

At least 3,554 Oklahomans diagnosed with HIV/AIDS have died since the first cases of AIDS were reported in Oklahoma in 1982. In 2010, 26 Oklahomans with HIV/AIDS died. Seven of those died the same year they were diagnosed. Delayed testing for HIV in Oklahoma often means a person not only finds out they have HIV, but they already have an AIDS diagnosis and are very ill.

“World AIDS Day serves as an important opportunity to bring increased awareness of HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma, and the importance of those who may be at risk for HIV to get tested. By calling 2-1-1, a person can find a free and confidential HIV test site in Oklahoma,” said Jan Fox, chief of the OSDH HIV/STD Service.

Events planned in Oklahoma to recognize World AIDS Day include the following:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 29 - the Latino Community Development Agency (OKC), 420 S.W. 10th Street, Oklahoma City, will host a Hispanic Candlelight Vigil to remember those persons who fought against AIDS. “Wherever there is light, hope is there!” is the ceremony’s theme. It will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information contact Nohora Chandler (405) 236-0701 ext. 123, lcda-vih@latinoagencyokc.org.
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 – Oklahoma State Department of Health (Tulsa) will be providing free in-home Rapid HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For an appointment call (918) 595-4292.
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 - Guiding Right, Inc. (Tulsa) will collaborate with the AIDS Coalition and Oklahomans for Equality to debut a documentary entitled, “We Were Here.” The documentary reflects on the arrival and impact of AIDS on the residents of San Francisco. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the historic Circle Cinema located at 12 S. Lewis Avenue in Tulsa. For information about this event or for free and confidential HIV counseling and testing contact Heather Nash at (918) 591-6034, or email hnash@guidingright.org
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 – Red Rock Behavioral Health Services (OKC) at 4400 N. Lincoln Blvd in Oklahoma City will be providing free, confidential and anonymous, walk-in HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, contact Michael Maus at (405) 425-0473; toll free at (877) 339-3330 or email mikem@red-rock.com
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 - Lawton Indian Hospital (Lawton) will be hosting a World AIDS Day testing event. Testing will begin at 9 a.m. and there will be a Lunch & Learn at noon with guest speaker, Gloria Zuniga, talking about basic HIV facts. Testing will end at 2 p.m. For information, contact Denise Smith, MPH, at Karole.smith@ihs.gov or (580) 354-5294.
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 - World AIDS Day Symposium (Tulsa), “It takes a village to fight HIV/AIDS” at the OSU Tulsa Auditorium, 700 N. Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The symposium is presented by Tulsa CARES and will feature speakers discussing access to testing, treatment, successful interventions, how judgments affect treatment, and legal issues. Registration is $35.00 and includes a light breakfast and box lunch. For information, contact Bruce Lewis at (918) 834-4194 / 1-800-474-4872 or brucel@tulsacares.org.
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 - World AIDS Day Observance (Oklahoma City) will be held at Expressions Church, 4010 N. Youngs Blvd. The observance starts at 7 p.m. and includes keynote speaker Executive Director of Cimarron Alliance Scott Hamilton, along with musical and dance performances, and a lighting of candles in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. For information, contact Expressions Church, (405) 528-2210.
  • Sunday, Dec. 4 - Guiding Right, Inc. (OKC) will join efforts with two Oklahoma City African American churches. Dr. George E. Young, Pastor of Holy Temple Baptist Church, 1540 NE 50th Street, and Dr. Joel A. Tudman, Pastor of Net Church, 1212 N. Hudson, will discuss the devastation of HIV/AIDS 30 years later, specifically the impact on African Americans. The churches will also address their role in helping reduce the number of HIV infections through education, routine HIV testing, treatment and care for those who are HIV positive. Guiding Right, Inc. will set up educational booths prior to Sunday services at 10 a.m. at both locations and distribute pamphlets and red ribbons. The congregations will wear red attire in remembrance of those who have died from HIV/AIDS and celebrate those still living with the disease. For information about these events, and free and confidential HIV counseling and testing, contact Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771, ext. 322 or njohnson@guidingright.org.

For more information about World AIDS Day, email info@worldaidscampaign.org or visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/. For information about testing sites, services and programs in Oklahoma call the OSDH HIV/STD Service at (405) 271-4636 or visit: http://hivstd.health.ok.gov.

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