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For Release:  March 2, 2012 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - 405/271-5601

HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts Focus on Women, Girls, and Native Americans

Two statewide HIV/AIDS statistics are prompting the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to support awareness events this month that focus HIV/AIDS attention on the American Indian/Alaska Native population and on women and girls. The most recent data available from the OSDH indicate that the American Indian/Alaska Native population has the third highest infection rate of all collective HIV/AIDS cases in Oklahoma.  This is the only racial/ethnic group besides Blacks to show an increase in cases from 2009 to 2010.  And while men account for most HIV/AIDS cases, the impact on women is growing. Nearly 15 percent of HIV/AIDS cases for all races are female.

The month of March has been selected for annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10 and National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 15 to offer support, encourage discussion, and educate women, girls and all American Indian/Alaska Natives about the importance of knowing one’s HIV status, preventing HIV/AIDS, and seeking treatment and care.

Jan Fox, chief of HIV/AIDS Service at the OSDH, supports these awareness events.  “It is important that our prevention efforts be culturally relevant and designed to send clear messages that will resonate with the populations who are most affected by HIV/AIDS,” she said. “Research shows that when compared to men, women of all racial categories face gaps in access to care, and minority populations and females are especially vulnerable. These awareness events serve as a banner for prevention.” 

Events scheduled in recognition of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day include the following:

  • Saturday, March 10: Guiding Right, Inc. (GRI) in Oklahoma City will collaborate with the” Lavish Ladies of Oklahoma City” for their “I Love My Life – I Got Tested” event at Morris Career Center, 145 N.E.23rd Street, Oklahoma City, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  GRI will conduct rapid HIV screenings.  Contact Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771 for more information.
  • Saturday, March 10: GRI’s Tulsa site will provide a mother and daughter education session focusing on sexual health from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club, 3601 N. Cincinnati, Tulsa.
  • Thursday, March 15: GRI’s Tulsa site will collaborate with the Rudsill Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave., Tulsa, for their annual workshop “Woman Up, HIV/AIDS and PregNOT” event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This one-day seminar for girls ages 11-17 years old and adult women provides information about HIV/AIDS and pregnancy prevention.  GRI will provide free HIV screenings.  To register, contact the library at (918) 549-7645. For information regarding HIV/AIDS education and testing, contact Heather Nash at (918) 344-3010.
  • Saturday, March 17: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., OKC Alumnae Chapter, will have a “Lunch and Learn” to discuss HIV/AIDS and its impact on Black women.  This event will be held at the Langston-OKC campus, 4205 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, contact Nicole Mitchell at (405) 208-9629 or Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771.
  • Saturday, March 24: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., OKC Alumnae Chapter, will host their annual “A Cinderella Story” event which provides free prom dresses to teen girls and educational seminars to include topics about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.  GRI will be a presenter.  This event will be held at the Langston-OKC campus, 4205 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, contact Nicole Mitchell at (405) 208-9629 or Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771.

Events scheduled in recognition of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day include the following:

  • Tuesday, March 20: The Lawton Indian Hospital will host a “Lunch and Learn” event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1515 Lawrie Tatum Road in Lawton. Confidential testing will be available for the American Indian/Alaska Native population ages 13 to 64. Sally Bouse-Pittser, OSDH HIV/STD prevention and training manager, will present “What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas.” Attendees should bring their own lunch. For more information, contact Denise Smith at (580) 354-5294 or email Karole.Smith@ihs.gov.
  • Friday, March 23: MAMA Knows, Inc. will host The Shawl Circle, an event to educate Native Americans in the Ardmore community about the growing impact of HIV on native people.  This event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at MAMA Knows, Inc., 10 W. Main, Suite 420 in Ardmore. 
  • Saturday, March 24:  HIV/AIDS awareness messages will be offered during a Community-Wide Awareness Concert beginning at 7 p.m. at the Charles B. Goddard Center, 401 First Avenue S.W. in Ardmore. The concert will feature the R&B/Hip-Hop group TAJJ and the Poteat Experience.  For more information, contact Kayla at kayla@mamaknowsinc.org or call (580) 277-0367.  

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