Spreading the word on health

Published 6:32 pm Thursday, June 26, 2014

Center. Kirstie Tyson distributes informative materials on her table at Thursday’s health fair at the Selma Convention Center.--Christopher Edmunds

Center. Kirstie Tyson distributes informative materials on her table at Thursday’s health fair at the Selma Convention Center.–Christopher Edmunds

By Christopher Edmunds
The Selma Times-Journal

More than 35 vendors provided everything from free information to free HIV and STD testing at Thursday’s Health and Employment Fair at the Selma Convention Center.

The event was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Public Health in partnership with the Black AIDS Institute.

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The fair featured free food, live music, free health screenings and giveaways.

The event in Selma was the second stop for the three-day HIV Testing Tour, which includes stops in Montgomery and Birmingham.

Attendees could take part in free, confidential HIV and STD testing Thursday, a service Cedric Wherry, managing director for Selma AIDS Information and Referral, said is important to the community’s overall health.

“The purpose of this event is to bring about awareness, education and testing,” Wherry said. “We believe the main thing is for people to know their status. If they know whether or not they have HIV, they can make better decisions based on that.”

At Thursday’s event, Darryl Pruitt with the Aletheia House substance abuse treatment center operated a table that gave attendees information about HIV and AIDS, as well as free condoms.

“This is a good opportunity to do some outreach and spread awareness,” Pruitt said.

Awareness was a key theme throughout the event, as many vendors focused on educating attendees about health concerns other than HIV and AIDS.

Carolyn Turner worked a display for Fresenius Medical Care focusing on chronic kidney disease.

“We are trying to slow the progress of chronic kidney disease in the area,” Turner said. “We want to educate the entire community. This is a great opportunity because there are so many different types of groups here, so there is a lot for people to learn about.”

Wherry said having a variety of vendors made the event more accessible and more interesting.

“There are many different vendors here because they all go hand-in-hand,” he said. “We may have people from the education system and drug rehab centers, but when you think about it, it all connects when it comes to the health of the community.”

Ashley Carter with the Dallas County Department of Human Resources said one way to make events like Thursday’s health fair better is to spread the word better ahead of time.

“It would be nice if more people would show up because so many people in our area need the information and resources offered here,” she said.