HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – More than a million Americans live with HIV, and an estimated 13% of people with HIV do not know they have it, according to the CDC. Local activists said HIV can impact anyone, so more than 50 community organizations teamed up on Saturday to host a ‘stomp out’ HIV event.
In honor of National HIV Testing Day, Thrive Alabama hosted the Stomp Out HIV Community Fest in Big Spring Park.
“Visit with us, visit with the community, and start those conversations, so we can strategize and plan and educate people about HIV, about the importance of testing, and about really the importance and value of partnership,” said Thrive Alabama Director of Health Education Erin Bortel.
In addition to music, vendors and activities for the whole family, the event offered free HIV testing. Event organizers said raising awareness about the importance of HIV testing requires community involvement.
“Today’s event brings so many people out, not just certain people but everyone who can be affected by HIV,” said Alabama Department of Public Health HIV Prevention Director Jora White. “HIV affects everybody in the world and in the community. We want to make sure we educate everyone on the importance of being educated, knowing their status and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health monitors HIV-positive cases in the state with the goal of decreasing case numbers and extending and improving the lives of people with HIV.
White said the ADPH is always looking for ways to combat the HIV epidemic, and when communities get involved with prevention measures, that job gets easier.
The CDC recommends everyone ages 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once, but community activists said periodic HIV testing can be a great way to maintain your health.
“In terms of knowing your HIV status, it’s really about taking control of your health,” said Bortel. “If we think about it in terms of our routine healthcare, and every time we go for a check-up or at least once a year if we need it, that’s a really good thing to communicate with your doctor.”
Thrive Alabama offers free HIV testing Monday through Friday. For more information about how to schedule an appointment, click here.