Home News Local news Free Testing and Safer-Sex Kits Part of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Events

Free Testing and Safer-Sex Kits Part of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Events

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Feb. 1, 2008 — If you don't know your HIV/AIDS status, two organizations are offering free testing in conjunction with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
HOPE (Helping Others in a Positive Environment) has added Valentine's Day to its mix of events with the theme Do It for Love. The organization has events planned on St. Thomas and St. John.
The St. Croix-based V.I. Care has joined forces with the University of the Virgin Islands for its HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. The campaign's goals are to reduce the number of people getting infected with HIV, as well as increase the number of people who know their HIV status and risk factors, according to a news release from HOPE.
HOPE Chief Executive Officer Ivy Moses was not available for further comment Friday.
The territory's rate is one of the highest in the country, with more than 880 people across the territory infected with HIV/AIDS, said Bruce Smail, V.I. Care's chief executive officer. An unknown number have the disease but don't know it. Many do not learn they have the disease until they fall ill.
"The potential for someone becoming HIV positive is huge," Smail said.
Symptoms may not appear until 10 or more years following infection.
HOPE's Do it for Love events kicked off Friday with free HIV counseling and testing all day at the HOPE office in the Professional Building on Norre Gade in Charlotte Amalie. An intervention retreat is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, with all spaces filled.
HOPE will partner with the American Red Cross from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to distribute free HIV information and safer-sex kits at post offices on St. Thomas.
V.I. Care will join with the University of the Virgin Islands to offer free testing from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at UVI Health Services on St. Croix.
HOPE will hold an HIV Information Screening fair at UVI's St. Thomas campus parking lot between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Thursday. In addition to providing information and safer-sex kits, HOPE will offer free HIV screenings, with the results quickly available.
Smail will share his personal story of living with HIV and lead a discussion on HIV, safer sex, trusting intimate partners and personal responsibility. It will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the UVI St. Croix Campus Cafetorium. A question-and-answer session will follow.
"It's an opportunity for people to hear what it's like to live with HIV," Smail said.
His remarks will bring home the point that getting HIV is not an immediate death sentence.
"We can live a long life," he said.
HOPE will hold a health fair from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay, St. John. The fair includes free screenings for HIV, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol while you wait, as well as free dental and eye exams and medical consultations. Information on chronic diseases and HIV will be distributed, along with safer-sex kits.
Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, is National Condom Day. From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., HOPE — in conjunction with UVI Health Services — will have condom displays with HIV information and safer-sex kit distributions at the UVI cafeteria.
The events conclude with a SISTA (Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS) Intervention at Julius E. Sprauve School on St. John. It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 14. SISTA is targeted at African-American women, but all women are welcome, said Lisette Santana, who heads the counseling, testing and referral service at HOPE.
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