AIDS Watch 2013 another great success!

On Tuesday, February 5th, 20 individuals from around the State gathered to participate in AIDS Watch Ohio, a biennial statewide advocacy day that has historically been produced by the Ohio AIDS Coalition. The program consisted of a morning training, working lunch, legislative visits, and a debriefing session. New this year was a legislative reception following the program.

Participants included ARC Ohio staff from the Toledo, Mansfield, and Columbus offices, consumers from Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, OAC staff, and a funding and advocacy partner from Northeast Ohio. ARC Ohio’s executive management members, housing director, and case managers participated in both the training and legislative visits.

Teams of participants met with various Ohio House and Senate members including House and Senate leadership, Chair of the Finance Committee, and other ranking officials in the Health Committee. Participants also presented the Spirit of Healing Awards to Representatives Mike Duffey and John Patrick Carney and to Senators Frank LaRose and Michael Skindell. The Award was bestowed on behalf of ARC Ohio for their support during the JCARR proceedings this past summer as well as their commitment to Ohio’s HIV/AIDS community. Award recipients and all members were invited to the legislative reception later that evening.

Because the program’s objective was to build relationships with policymakers, the discussions usually surrounded creating awareness of AIDS Resource Center Ohio and the services it provides. Participants educated their legislators about ARC Ohio’s new direction post-merger, its new medical center and pharmacy, and its policy priorities. Other conversations included information on the latest HIV/AIDS surveillance data and how ARC Ohio has adopted the treatment cascade as their model for service provision and prevention efforts. Legislators were encouraged to contact the ARC policy team with questions about HIV/AIDS or any related policy issues in the coming year.

Check out some of these photographs from a successful year at AIDS Watch 2013!  Pictures courtesy of Kyle Stein.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
— Malcolm X

His words are still an inspiration in the ongoing fight for equality and justice.  Half a century after Malcolm X’s call for a “revolution of the mind”, the devastation of racial oppression is all too apparent in our society.  We see this social injustice in the prison system, unemployment levels, segregated cities, poverty rates, and health disparities.  One disparity is increasing, partially because we find it difficult to discuss.

According to the CDC*, 1 in 16 African American men will be diagnosed with HIV within their lifetime.  Black Americans are over ten times more likely to get HIV than their white counterparts.  The majority of new HIV infections in black men occur among African American men who have sex with men (72%). It is estimated that black Americans account for a staggering 44% of all new HIV infections, despite accounting for only 12-14% or the population.  It is estimated that 116,750 African Americans in the U.S. are unaware that they have HIV.

There is no cure for HIV, but knowing your status and getting treatment early is key to leading a long healthy life and preventing the spread of HIV.  Getting tested is a big step that allows you to prepare for your future, whether it’s practicing safe sex and preventing infection or knowing your status to protect your partner and get life-saving treatment.  Testing is also much easier now…no needles and results available in 30 minutes!  Check out www.preventhivstdohio.com for free and anonymous testing sites across Ohio.

As we commemorate the struggle and honor the strength of Black History this February, we must also look to the future by preparing today.  On February 7, you can participate in a “revolution of the mind” by getting tested on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  Join us for this special day at events across Columbus, Ohio.

* For further information and statistics: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/

 

~Kristen Neumann-Martiensen

HIV Prevention Specialist for MSM

AIDS Resource Center Ohio