LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - National HIV Testing Day is June 27, and the Arkansas Department of Health wants to get the word out about it.
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about HIV and STDs.
1. What is National HIV Testing Day?
• The whole country recognizes National HIV Testing Day every year on June 27th. It is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS in Arkansas and give community members the tools they need to stop the spread of the disease.
• This year, in partnership with the Black AIDS Institute, the Arkansas Department of Health HIV/STD Section will commemorate the day by kicking off a three-city training and testing tour starting in Conway and going the following two days to West Memphis and McGehee, Arkansas.
• Each training session will be from 10 am - 2:30 pm starting Thursday, June 27th at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Friday the 28th, we travel to West Memphis to the Neighborhood Center, and on Saturday, the 29th, we will be in McGehee at the Desha County Hospital.
2. Why is this effort important?
• We have to raise people's awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Arkansas.
• That means involving community members and community leaders in the fight against the spread of the disease. We need to give community members the tools they need to address HIV and AIDS in their area so that they can advocate for the health and lives of their neighbors.
• In Arkansas, over 5,000 people have HIV and so many more of their friends and family members are affected by the disease. We need to mobilize these friends, families, and neighbors and empower them to be a part of the effort to stop the spread of the disease in their communities.
• At the Arkansas Department of Health, we also encourage all Arkansans to "Know Now. Get Tested. Get Treated for HIV & STDs."
• Everyone needs to be tested so that they know their status. If someone doesn't know, they could be spreading the virus and not getting the treatment they need!
• For those who have HIV, the disease doesn't have you! It isn't a death sentence if you get treatment, and there are programs out there that can help if you don't have much money - like the Ryan White Program run by the Arkansas Department of Health.
3. What will go on at these training sessions?
• The training sessions will include instruction and discussion for community members to engage professional from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Black AIDS Institute and learn about how they can become involved in the fight against HIV and AIDS in their community.
• It's Free! We will provide food and all the materials the trainees will need.
• We will also be offering free and confidential HIV and Syphilis tests throughout the day. It is just a mouth swab and you know your results in 20 minutes.
• Partner organizations that specialize in health will also be joining us from 10 am - 2:30 pm to offer free services, provide information, and lots more.
4. Who should come to these training sessions?
• If you know someone who is fighting HIV, who has lost their life to HIV, or if you care about the health of your community, come join us in learning how to address HIV and AIDS in your community.
5. So tell me where and when and how I sign up!
• All of the training sessions start at 10 am.
• On Thursday, we will be in Conway at the University of Central Arkansas at 201 Donaghey Ave.
• On Friday, we will be in West Memphis at the Neighborhood Center at 1300 E. Polk Street.
• On Saturday, we will be in McGehee at the Desha County Hospital at 900 South 3rd Street.
• You can RSVP for the training session in your area by going online to http://arkansasengagementtour.eventbrite.com or email Courtney.firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Source: Arkansas Department of Health HIV/STD Section)