Dozens gather at AIDS luncheon

Published 11:13pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dozens of people gathered at the St. James Hotel Monday for a luncheon arranged by a local HIV prevention organization in honor of World AIDS Day.

The Black Belt HIV Prevention Network held a World Aids Day Luncheon & Candle Light Vigil Monday at the St. James Hotel. The free luncheon was meant to educate people about the evolution of HIV treatment, share knowledge about treatments available today, and encourage people to get tested.

“Our goal is to make sure they know that treatment is out there,” Janice Robbins, the HIV Program Coordination for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said.

Robbins said the Black Belt HIV Prevention Network meets monthly to contemplate events for national HIV awareness days.

“Usually we try to have a luncheon and a candlelight vigil every December,” she said.

Nurse practitioner Elissa Greene of Savanna, GA was invited to the program to deliver a speech on the history of HIV treatment.

Greene, who has been working with HIV since 1987, stressed the significance of acknowledging how far research has come since the epidemic first began.

“I think it’s important for people to remember where we were and where we are now,” Greene said. “Remember people who may have been taken from the diseases and the strides that science has made.”

She said she wants people to be aware of all of the treatment available to them whether it is locally or elsewhere.

“Nobody needs to get HIV, but if people do get HIV there is treatment available, and there is good treatment available that works really well,” she said.

The Black Belt HIV Prevention Network, which is just one of the many local HIV-related programs available in the area, provides free HIV/AIDS prevention education, confidential HIV Testing with HIV test results in as little as 20 minutes and more.

You can reach Robbins at 334-874-2550 for more information about the network.

The luncheon was followed by a candlelight vigil meant to honor those affected by HIV and AIDS.

“We always want to keep them in remembrance, so we try to do the vigil to acknowledge those that have passed on and acknowledge those that are living with the virus as well as family member and friends who are affected by it,” Robbins said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health, Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, Selma AIDS Information and Referral and Aletheia House also hosted the lucheon.


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