Local Black leaders in HIV prevention will be at high traffic intersections in Seattle this Thursday, talking with people to create greater awareness and help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS in the African American community. This outreach is part of a national effort on Feb. 7 to raise awareness through National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day.
"Many people in the Black community don't realize that HIV and AIDS still pose a threat to people in all walks of life," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "We need to educate one another, promote HIV testing and get treatment to those who need it." Feb. 7 has been declared as Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day by Sims.
The Black Leadership Council on HIV is coordinating the Seattle outreach activities. Locations include 3rd and Yesler in Downtown Seattle and 23rd and South Jackson in Seattle's Central District. BLC members will be raising awareness of the risks of HIV infection, distributing sexual safety kits and providing information on where to get HIV testing and other services.
In King County, African Americans and foreign-born Blacks account for 21 percent of new HIV infections, though they are only 6 percent of King County's population. Nationally, African Americans make up about 12 percent of the population, yet half of all new AIDS cases reported in this country are among members of the Black community. AIDS is the leading cause of death nationally for Black women aged 25-34; for Black men aged 35-44, it is the second leading cause of death.
The street outreach will encourage people to get tested for HIV, as those who know they are infected can get needed treatment and are more likely to protect their sexual partners from infection. About 25 percent of infected people are not aware that they have HIV.
"Knowing your HIV status can be a health and life saver, both for you and your sexual partners," said Dr. George Counts, member of the King County Board of Health. "We're calling on people to get informed, get tested, and get treated. This is not just a slogan – it's a critical call to action for all our communities."
For more information on the Black Leadership Council, visit www.metrokc.gov/health/apu/blc
For information on HIV testing, call the HIV/STD Hotline from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 206-205-7837.