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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Thursday, February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and the Centers for Disease Control say that, although blacks make up just 14% of the national population, they account for about 44% of all new HIV infections.

Here in Ohio, Blacks make up just twelve percent of the population but account for almost half – 49% of all new HIV infections.  So, health organizations around the country, including Ohio, say they’re mobilizing to encourage populations of color to get educated, get tested, get involved, and get treated.

Tyler Termeer is the Director of Ohio AIDS Coalition a Division of AIDS Resource Center Ohio.  He says after 30-plus years of progress on treatment and awareness, the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS is still prevalent.

According to Termeer, “Because HIV has, for such a long time, been tied to the lesbian, gay, bisexual community, often communities of color, including Black and Latino communities, have struggled.” 

Robert Harrison agrees.  He’s an HIV Intervention Specialist with Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County.

Harrison says “We would like to start recognizing the issues that are present in the black community and see if we can encourage, as well as other minorities, to come out and test, and for anyone that has put themselves at risk for HIV, they should seek out a test; to know their status, as opposed to waiting for some potential symptoms to appear, because they may not appear.”

And more stats from the CDC - they estimate 1 of every 16 black men and 1 of every 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV, at some point in their lives, and HIV/AIDS remains 3rd leading cause of death among Black men and women 35-44 years old in the United States.  Officials we spoke with say these sobering statistics are the reason for awareness days like today.

Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County have a list of testing sights online at PHDMC.ORG  They urge awareness and testing all year long.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.