Community AIDS Network to honor National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By : Krista Di Tucci
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SARASOTA – Mikey Lamb, Community AIDS Network’s (CAN) Prevention Specialist, says last year’s national statistics show the highest cases of HIV/AIDS are among black men who have sex with men. Furthermore, he says men who have sex with men but don’t identify as gay are 50 percent more likely to contract HIV/AIDS in their lifetime. The second highest HIV/AIDS cases are among black heterosexual women.

“I think a lot of it boils down to people of colors’ lack of resources, as well as culture and geographic setting,” Lamb says. “Being a man that sleeps with another man is not generally accepted well in a black household.”

image2CAN is holding its annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Health Fair on Feb. 4 from noon to 4 p.m. at Fredd Atkins Park, 2581 Washington Ct., Sarasota.

The health fair is free and will feature a DJ, community dancers and singers, crafts, clowns, face painting and a bounce house. Also included are free food, drinks, snacks, raffles, information booths and giveaway prizes.

“I’m really excited about the youth that come out to the fair,” Lamb says. “We do a lot of partnering with the Boys and Girls Club and we have also touched the college demographic to come out and get involved.”

CAN will be offering rapid HIV tests, which yield results in 15 minutes, along with chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and pregnancy testing. Communityhealthcare partners will be providing additional services such as screenings for blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.

image1“I encourage everyone to get tested and know your (HIV) status,” Lamb says. “If it’s free, take advantage of it. There are people out here who look just like you and can point you in the direction you need to go. Not only do black lives matter, but black health matters.”

Additionally, the health fair will include the Step Up and Out Poetry series, a showcase of poets from various areassharing how HIV has touched their lives. Lamb says the series allows people to express themselves through spoken word poetry. He says he is urging the community to participate as only a few have signed up so far. The series is open to any age group, and cash prizes are offered for award winners up to third place.

Lamb says CAN chose to hold the fair atFredd Atkins Park because it is an easily accessible to the black community. Last year, the health fair had a positive turnout despite rainy, cold weather, so Lamb says he expects even more community involvement this year.

“We bring it right to their front door,” Lamb says. “If people are too scared to come to us and be seen, then we’re coming to them.”

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