Free HIV/AIDS testing available Tuesday to mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
A group of Cincinnati organizations is hosting a free HIV testing event Downtown Tuesday night. The event is part of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, marked annually on Feb. 7. (The local event had to be rescheduled because of winter weather).
Federal data shows in 2019, African Americans were 13% of the U.S. population but accounted for 44% of new HIV diagnoses. And Black Americans are less likely to seek testing and care.
"The top reasons why this is happening is medical mistrust, [and] it is that kind of shame or stigma of actually getting tested, or even that fear," says Key Beck, a prevention outreach specialist with Equitas Health.
Beck says the event will have a separate, private section for anyone who gets a positive diagnosis; a health navigator will talk through the test results and help connect each person with resources, like access to PrEP, a highly effective medication for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use.
"Whether you test positive or not, there will be someone to bring you into care," Beck says. "So you can get connected with a health professional right then and there at the event."
Equitas is hosting the event along with IV-CHARIS, Caracole, Hamilton County Public Health, and the UC Early Intervention Program. Several experts and health professionals will be on hand to answer questions and offer free flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
"Oftentimes, when we hear about HIV/AIDS, we think about the LGBTQ community, which is true, but we also want to highlight that there are many cisgender women, folks who are pregnant, and just cisgender folks in general, who also should be educated and de-stigmatize getting tested for them as well," Beck says.
Beck says they also want to celebrate Black culture with spoken word performances, food, door prizes and music. Masks are required.
When and where
Tuesday, February 22 from 5 to 9 p.m.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 E. Freedom Way
Pre-registration not required