About five local health agencies partnered to provide free HIV/AIDS tests, screening, counseling and medications to people in Milwaukee at MATC S floor, 733 W. State St.
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The five organizations put up this event in honor of the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBAHAD) which is held annually on February 7 and is in its 16th year .
These local health organizations put up desks that offer HIV/AIDS tests to people and counseling or medications to those who need them, and a table with hundreds of condoms was left unattended so that visitors can feel free to take up the condoms for personal use without feeling monitored.
“We left the table unattended to eliminate discomfort, so people don’t feel judged. It worked,” said Ericka Sinclair, MS, PHH and CEO of Greater Milwaukee Center of Health and Wellness, Inc. “The condoms are out there now and people will use them.”
The program is targeted at African Americans who are at high risks of contracting HIV/AIDS. “Two in five African American men are HIV positive in Milwaukee alone, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services AIDS/HIV program,” Sinclair said.
The partners for the yearly event are the Greater Milwaukee Center for Health and Wellness, Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Hispanic/Latino Tobacco Prevention Network, UMOS, and the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center. The event is funded by the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services.
“Milwaukee has 150 to 200 new HIV infections per year, which I feel is a lot for our city size. 60 percent of new infections are African Americans,” said Gina Allende, health program manager at UMOS.
Many people fear to go for HIV/AIDS tests and screening because they fear what the results might be, but the earlier people found out what their HIV/AIDS statuses are the better for effective treatments, the event organizers said.
This is more important for people who engage in high risk sexual behaviors because they are more at risk of contracting a sexual disease, and this category of people include prostitutes, gays and lesbians, people who do not like using condoms, and anyone in a relationship with an HIV-positive lover.
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Even though the event is put up for African Americans, the organizers will attend to anyone who comes to them regardless of his race or color, and there are free medications given to high risk persons who engage in loose sexual acts to prevent them from contracting HIV/AIDS.