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Organizations push to raise awareness at World Aids Day event

Rev. L.C. Lepard, DACCO Sr. Outreach Specialist. He is the guest speaker. DACCO stands for Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office. Photo courtesy of L.C. Lepard.
Rev. L.C. Lepard, DACCO Sr. Outreach Specialist. He is the guest speaker. DACCO stands for Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office. Photo courtesy of L.C. Lepard.
Published Nov. 29, 2018

TAMPA ­— A World AIDS Day awareness event in Tampa Saturday (Dec. 1) will feature health experts, onsite HIV screening and health and wellness vendors including Metro Wellness, Moffitt Cancer Center and Florida Family Health Center.

The family-friendly outdoor event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Positively U, Inc., 1420 W Waters Ave. The nonprofit outreach center for people with or affected by AIDS/HIV has teamed with The Tampa Alumnae and Tampa Metropolitan Alumnae chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to bring awareness to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and the disease's impact on the state of Florida.

Those who attend will be able to vote on their favorite entry in a student poster contest. The winners will receive a cash prize. The contest, event organizers said in a news release, is a way to engage a younger audience in this important health discussion.

"HIV/AIDS has become increasingly prevalent among the younger community, between the ages of 20 and 30," Jacqueline Aiken-Jackson, who leads Tampa Alumnae chapter's International Awareness and Involvement Committee. "We're encouraging more young people to come and participate because they're very much impacted by the prevalence of this disease and the rate in which it continues to spread."

Delta Sigma Theta choose to collaborate with Positively U, Inc. because of its commitment to HIV/AIDS education and access to communities in need, according to the release. Many of the nonprofit's staff and volunteers are HIV positive and can offer help to others who are making the same journey.

"The stigma regarding HIV is still prevalent throughout the United States," Geneva Galloway, Positively U's Director of Development, said in the statement. "If anything, it has increased. Yes, we have medications that are provided to clients, but we're still in the preservation mode of not spreading the virus. The numbers are still rising. We're just trying to encourage people to get tested and know their status."