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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Offers Free Testing In Jacksonville

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Tomorrow is National Black HIV and AIDS Awareness Day, and local advocates say there will be plenty of opportunities to get tested in Jacksonville.The objective is to educate, test and treat African Americans all over the country. The issue is directed towards African Americans because of high infection rates compared to other populations.

Blacks represent 14 percent of the U.S. population and 44 percent of the new U.S. HIV diagnoses

In Duval County approximately 7,000 citizens are infected with AIDS; 64 percent of them are African American.

According to a Florida Health AIDS Surveillance Report this percentage is higher than all of the neighboring counties.

Many of those with the disease are unaware of their infection and are unintentionally transmitting the virus to others.

Torrencia Shiloh, Area 4 Minority AIDS Coordinator with the Duval County Health Department, says intercourse between African American men is driving today’s epidemic, but investing prevention money in black females with HIV has lowered rates.

“With hopes of pouring in a lot of the prevention dollars like we did for African American women we hope to see the same results for men,” Shiloh said.

Southside-based River Region Human Services will be hosting various testing events for tomorrow’s awareness day.

Walgreens pharmacies will host tests at both the 3604 Blanding Blvd. and 5108 Norwood Ave. locations from 3 to 6 p.m.  Club Aqua at 11000 Beach Blvd. will also be holding examinations from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Family Dollar at 4380 Moncrief Rd. will also host a testing event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rapid HIV tests, which will be available at the testing locations, provide results with in 15 minutes.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.
WJCT News Intern Scott Harrison is a Journalism Major at Flagler College. He also reports for the college's campus news website, The Gargoyle.