Written by: Kristen Shipley, @perfectlyk
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older) in 2010, despite representing only 12% of the US population.
That’s a problem.
For National HIV Testing Day (June 27), I volunteered at the community HIV Awareness Event at the Max Robinson Center in southeast DC. We gave information and literature to people in the community, but we also learned more about this chronic disease. I learned new information about this deadly disease, such as the fact that HIV may not show up until 3-6 months after infection.
For me, I enjoyed seeing see so many people in the District of Columbia’s Anacostia community coming out to get HIV information and, most importantly, get tested. Everyone needs to know their status, for their own personal health and for the sake of others. Since HIV does not yet have a cure, it is crucial that people take care of themselves while dealing with this disease because the immune system weakens.
The event was hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF), WHUR Radio, Whitman Walker Health, and the Community Education Group. At the event, I shadowed CBCF’s PR professional, Tim Pulliam as he did an interview with WHUR, and former CBCF intern, Marc Banks as both handled social media coverage for the event. As an aspiring public relations professional, I hope to represent and be an advocate for important causes such as this one. Congresswoman Eleanor Norton (DC) also attended the event to be tested. She sets a great example, and I could tell people in the community appreciate her leadership.
I enjoyed talking to professionals to learn more about HIV and interacting with people in the community. Towards the end of the event, everyone cooled off with some Rita’s Ice.
I plan to take the information I learned at the event and share it with friends, family and my peers on campus. HIV may not have a cure yet, but it can be prevented. Get tested. Visit www.hivtest.org to find a free local testing site in your area. #KnowYourStatus
Kristen Shipley is a native of York, PA and a rising sophomore at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (A&T) where she majors in Public Relations. Kristen serves as an Aggie Ambassador at A&T; Freshman Representative for the Honors Program; Assistant Editor of the Aggie Press, A&T’s online newspaper; and was a Public Relations Intern for A&T’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Kristen is serving in the office of Rep. Alma Adams (NC).