Spreading the word about HIV/AIDS

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February 7th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Community organizations are hosting a town hall forum on the impact of HIV/AIDS on African Americans in Omaha today. It’s part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the disease, and its disproportionate impact on African Americans.

The goal of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is to raise awareness about the disease among African Americans. (Photo credit NBHAAD)

Sherri Nared works as an HIV Prevention Specialist for the Douglas County Health Department. She is helping to organize the forum, which is set to take place Tuesday night, marking National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. “There is a saying in our community: ‘I am my brother’s keeper.’ So it’s our responsibility to keep the community safe.”

“For instance, if I have information about HIV and AIDS that I need to share, to make sure that my brother or sister does not get (the disease),” Nared said, “it’s my responsibility to educate them.”

Black people are disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS. According to figures provided by Nared, HIV is the third leading cause of death among blacks between the ages of 35 and 44, and the ninth leading cause of death among black people of all ages.

The number of new infections has been declining slowly over the last few years. But Nared said events like these are necessary to encourage black people to get educated, test and treated.

“There is such a stigma behind being HIV positive that the black community does not talk about it,” Nared said. “Because if we talk about it, that may seem like one of us has it. It’s a negative stigma. We are trying to change that.”

Tonight’s event will include several skits and sessions of poetry as well as testimony from someone who was diagnosed with HIV in the past six months. It’s set to take place from 5:30 – 7:30pm at Love’s Jazz and Art Museum in North Omaha.

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