The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH) will host an event focused on testing and education to commemorate World AIDS Day next weekend.
The DOH, as part of the Pinellas Planning Partnership (PPP) has titled the event, “Access Granted: Ending the HIV Epidemic.” It takes place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Dec. 4, at the Enoch Davis Center located at 111 18th Ave. S in St. Petersburg.
Unlike the 2020 World AIDS Day events that were virtual due to COVID-19 precautions, this year's event returns to an in-person format that includes educational sessions, testing, entertainment and more.
The morning portion of the program runs from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. as the Ujima Men's Collective Conference focuses on "opportunities for Black same gender loving men to develop life skills strategies in a non-threatening environment,” DOH said in a press release.
The afternoon portion of the event will focus on community awareness, with opportunities to find resources, get tested and enjoy food and performances.
In Pinellas, 2019 figures show a 53.2% rate in new diagnoses in the Black population. The rates among Latinx people are also high, at 29.2%. The highest rate is in men who have sex with men. Cases are also increased for those who use injectable drugs.
"We encourage anyone older than 13, regardless of risk, to get tested at least once for HIV/AIDS," said Darius Lightsey, HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator in the press release. "It will take a community effort to reduce our rates, and it all starts with education and testing."
The Pinellas Planning Partnership was established in 2011 to facilitate collaboration between HIV/AIDS service organizations in Pinellas County as a united effort.
DOH-Pinellas is also part of the Pinellas County Ending the HIV Epidemic Planning Advisory Council that develops strategies to combat rising rates of HIV/AIDS in the county. The groups invite the community to take part in the discussions about AIDS in Pinellas County.
For information about the event, pinellashealth.com or call (727) 824-6900.
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