Sunday, June 16, 2024

From the AIDS Action Committee, Feb. 11 – AIDS Action’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event is from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday at AIDS Action Committee, 359 Green St., Central Square.

It was scheduled for Feb. 9, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

The event will be held to mark the 15th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which took place Feb. 7.

At the Wednesday event, AIDS Action will partner with the Men’s Health League, a program of the Cambridge Health Department, to raise awareness and foster dialogue about the impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color. The event will include light refreshments, discussion about outreach initiatives into the black community and an overview of HIV/AIDS in the black community. Free HIV testing will be available. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is preferred with Anissa Ray at [email protected] or by calling (617) 599-0211.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is organized by a coalition of groups that provide help to black communities affected by HIV and AIDS. Events marking the day are devoted to education, testing, involvement and treatment. As it has been for the past three years, the theme of this year’s day is “I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!”

Black people are disproportionately affected by HIV. In Massachusetts, they make up only 6 percent of the state’s population, but 30 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS. Between 2006 to 2010, there was a 48 percent increase in new HIV incidences among black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men aged 13 to 29, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“The black community has the highest rate of HIV infection of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States,” said Carl Sciortino, executive director of AIDS Action Committee. “The only way to stop the virus from spreading is through education about HIV transmission and prevention, HIV testing and treatment. We must fight the continued stigma surrounding HIV, which prevents people from getting tested or seeking treatment. We need to keep talking about HIV in the black community and ensure there are appropriate resources to combat the virus.”

AIDS Action provides outreach, education and prevention services to black men and women vulnerable to HIV. For 25 years, AIDS Action has called attention annually to the issue through the Bayard Rustin Breakfast, a community event that brings together nearly 500 Black community members who are living with HIV or otherwise affected by the virus. Named for Bayard Rustin, one of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement who was gay, the breakfast celebrates those who have shown uncommon courage in fighting HIV/AIDS in communities of color. This year’s Bayard Rustin Breakfast will take place April 4.