By James Harper, Special to the NNPA from the Daytona Times –
Black males in Volusia County are being asked to "man up’’ when it comes to learning about their HIV/AIDS status.
"More Blacks in Florida are living with HIV or have died from AIDS than any other racial or ethnic group," according to information provided by the Florida HIV/AIDS Minority Network.
"Man Up" is a Department of Health men’s initiative focusing on sexually active men who account for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in Florida. The initiative encourages men to "Man Up" and become involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to accept responsibility for the consequences of their sexual actions.
Conference to be held at B-CU
The Volusia/Flagler Minority AIDS Network is hosting a "Man Up" Conference on Saturday, March 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Bethune-Cookman University’s L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing. The event will include lunch.
The free conference will include breakout sessions about sexually transmitted diseases, misconceptions about HIV and HIV and the church. Free rapid HIV testing and flu shots will be available.
Tabitha Robinson is the Minority AIDS coordinator for this region based out of Jacksonville.
Women can attend
The Florida HIV/AIDS Minority Network was restructured in January 2007 to become more inclusive of all racial/ethnic minorities, improve communications, provide better coordination and eliminate duplication.
"We expect to be able to educate attendees and make them aware of what is going on in our community in reference to HIV/AIDS," Robinson said.
Robinson, who says women are also welcome to attend, added that those attending will be taught how to practice safe sex and can learn their HIV status.
HIV/AIDS has disproportionately impacted the African-American community because of the stigma, she stated.
She says many feel ashamed if diagnosed with the disease and "they are afraid of being associated with the disease."
In spite of the fact that HIV/AIDS has been around for decades, Robinson says there is still a lack of education.
"They (Black men) are not aware of how they can be infected and are afraid to be tested," she added.
Teresa White, also known as "Condom Miranda," will be one of the speakers at the event.
White, a Minority AIDS coordinator, created a character-based HIV prevention presentation called "Spicin’ up Prevention" with Condom Miranda."
White as Condom Miranda has received many awards from the community during the last eight years of performing throughout Florida and Georgia. She has received national media attention for her presentation.
She is an active volunteer in the community for the Gainesville Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee where she serves as the secretary for the committee; a member of the local NAACP branch in Gainesville; chairperson for the Alachua County Health Department Linguistic Access Resource committee; and an adjunct Medical Spanish instructor for University of Florida Medical School.
White is also the founder and facilitator of Positives Empowering Positives, an HIV/AIDS Support group that meets in Alachua County.