World AIDS Day 2010: Universal Access and Human Rights Carolinas CARE Partnership HIV Testing Increases Access for the Charlotte Region
(Charlotte, NC) December 1, 2010 marks the 13th annual commemoration of World AIDS Day. This year’s theme, “Universal Access and Human Rights,” brings to light some of the reasons why HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, continues to devastate both our community and communities around the world. Advocates, both globally and locally,are working to find ways to ensure Universal Access to HIV prevention, testing, medical care and support services for everyone infected with or at risk for HIV, calling it a basic Human Right.
Carolinas CARE Partnership, formerly the Regional HIV/AIDS Consortium, focuses on HIV prevention, education, housing, mental health and counseling and testing, and works to create a community where universal access to prevention and care is a reality.
In observance of World AIDS Day, Carolinas CARE Partnership will offer FREE and CONFIDENTIAL HIV and Syphilis Testing on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3 from 4:00 until 8:00 PM at 7510 East Independence Boulevard, Suite 105. All members of the community are invited and encouraged to come out, learn about ways to prevent HIV, get to know Carolinas CARE Partnership and get tested for HIV and Syphilis.
It’s free, it’s confidential, no appointment is required and knowing your HIV status is one way to take control of your health.
For more information, please call Shannon Warren, Program Director, at 704-531-2467 x 14.
HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among African-Americans, and African-Americans make up over half of new HIV infections. HIV rates also continue to rise among Latinos, gay men, adolescents, and people over 50. In Mecklenburg County alone, 400 individuals were diagnosed with HIV during 2009 – that’s more than one a day. For more information, please visit http://www.carolinascare.org; http://www.cdc.gov or http://whb.ncpublichealth.com .
Check THIS out!
That was video from Clash of the Champions III: The Road to Redemption. This is an event that the D-Up! Program of Carolinas CARE Partnership held on Saturday, July 17.
The purpose of the event was 3 fold. The first and most important objective was to conduct surveys with members of the target population (Young Men of Color who have Sex with Men) to see if the safer sex messages this program teaches and promotes are spreading through the community, and to assess the population’s risk factors, where they are hanging out, how best to reach them, and what prevention workers may be missing in trying to reach this vulnerable group of people. Over 200 surveys were collected, and the data is being analyzed and will be compared to the survey data from the past 2 balls, hopefully showing trends that indicate that our program works and progress is being made. We are very grateful to the volunteers who assisted as well as the state employees who came down from Raleigh to help. We had a great collaboration with the state epidemiology department and were able to pool resources and share the data, which will be used for further shaping the D-Up! program as well as for community planning at the state level.
The second purpose of the Ball is to conduct HIV and Syphilis testing. We were privileged to work with many volunteers from the NC Prevention and Care Branch, Disease Intervention Specialists as well as CCP staff to counsel and test 46 individuals.
The third, and most fun purpose of the Ball is the Prevention is Sexy Ball itself. Darrin, GeoAnna and Daniel did an AMAZING job of putting the Ball together, from designing the categories to managing the logistics to designing and making some awesome looking cupcake stands to ensuring that the HIV prevention message we were aiming to get out got out! The commentators did an outstanding job of repeating the message, reminding people to use protection, to get tested, to ask questions, and to take control of their own health and their own bodies.
I didn’t get to see much of the beginning of the Ball, as I was one of the pre-screeners – I was helping to determine who was eligible for the survey – but once we were done with that around midnight, I got to see it for myself and let me tell you, it was unbelievable.
There were about 2,000 people there, many in their effects (or costumes, for those of us not cool enough to know the lingo), many practicing walking and vogueing and basically preparing to battle with the others who were competing in the same category. Lots of game faces on, lots of last minute nerves being worked out.
All of the categories had something to do with HIV Prevention – and what I got to see was just…indescribable. It was a lesson in truly meeting people where they are – literally, figuratively, philosophically. I had to remind myself during the evening that this event was meant to attract people very unlike myself – I was one of very few white people there, one of few women there, one of few people over 30, one of few people who had really no idea what to expect, and I felt a little voyeuristic, almost like I was seeing something I wasn’t really supposed to see. But everyone I encountered was unfailing polite, and the people who battled were amazingly talented and dedicated.
And what I learned from all this was that people, no matter how marginalized, no matter how sub- the sub-culture may be, deserve the dignity of prevention services and education that meet their needs, that speak their language, that are delivered by someone they can trust and relate to, and that ultimately give them the tools and knowledge to protect themselves.
In the end, only each individual person can decide what level of risk is acceptable to them. Each and every person has to decide, each and every time the issue comes up, whether or not to use a condom, whether or not to share needles. It’s a huge responsibility, and so arming people effectively is the best chance we have to stop the spread of HIV, syphilis and other STDs.
I for one am grateful to the CDC for understanding this empowering method of prevention – and I look forward to Clash of the Champions IV…July 16, 2011!
Last night was an exciting evening for us – it was our official Ribbon Cutting ceremony – and the launch of our new name, Carolinas CARE Partnership, to the community.
We also launched a new logo, a new website, and more social media. Check out http://www.carolinascare.org – and see the amazing work done by Amanda at ProSystems…along with Terry Ellington, the Executive Director and the members of our Marketing Committee!
What didn’t change is the mission of this organization – to foster and ensure a regional approach to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, and to meet with compassion and dignity the needs of those affected by this disease, the dedication of our staff, and the commitment of our Board of Directors.
I, for one, wake up every morning and thank my lucky stars that I have the privilege of doing a job I love, of working with a great team of passionate people, of making a difference in the lives of people living with and at risk for HIV, and getting to know and work with amazing organizations in our community.
So on this first day of the rest of our lives as Carolinas CARE Partnership, I leave you with some pictures. It was a great evening and an important milestone, but by no means the end of the work that there is to be done.
Special thanks to the Board, Staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to bring us to this place, this new day. Namaste!
-Shannon Warren, Program Director