Tubman-King Church to host awareness program Dec. 5
BY JAMES HARPER
Eighty-one people with HIV and 57 with AIDS were diagnosed in 2011 locally, according to the Volusia County Health Department.
Patrick Forand is the HIV/AIDS program coordinator for both Volusia and Flagler counties, and has held the job for the past seven years.
Forand said there currently are a total of 1,450 people living with the disease in the area but he cautions that 20 percent to 25 percent of Volusia County residents don’t know they are positive.
“They don’t know how to protect themselves or their partners,” Forand told the Daytona Times this week as the area gets ready to observe World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
Forand warns that there also are people who have been diagnosed with the disease and refuse to admit it to themselves. They are continuing to pass it on to others, which is a crime.
He says that anyone who says they had HIV/AIDS and are saying they are now cured are not telling the truth.
“Once you are diagnosed, you will always have HIV/AIDS. Lab tests might show viral level undetectable,” Forand said, but the disease is still present because only a small sample of their blood was taken at the time of the test when the undetectable diagnosis was suggested.
Of those with HIV/AIDS locally, 48 percent are White, 38 percent Black. However, Blacks only make up 9 percent of county’s population.
Forand also noted that the disease is being diagnosed disproportionately among Black women at an alarming rate.
He also verified that Blacks make up 50 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases nationwide.
The Rev. John T. Long III, senior pastor of Tubman-King Community Church, said the church will be holding a program on Dec. 5 starting at 7 p.m. to educate the community about HIV/AIDS
Long said the program details are being finalized but he’s hoping for a frank discussion of HIV/AIDS by groups of clergy and laypeople.
“We will also try to get to the root as to why discussions of sexuality (including HIV and AIDS) remains a taboo subject in so many of our churches,” Long said.
‘Silence and shame’
Long said he became motivated to address HIV/AIDS in the Black community when he learned the rate was increasing among Black seniors.
“It is only because silence and shame that HIV and AIDS continues to take lives. If you are not infected with HIV/AIDS, then you are affected by HIV/AIDS,” Long added.
Tubman-King is located at 1090 George W. Engram Blvd., Daytona Beach.
‘Faces of AIDS’
Other activities planned in honor of those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS include a fundraiser sponsored by the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau.
The bureau is hosting a benefit on Dec. 1 to raise funds to support its mission to end the stigma and community consequences associated with HIV/AIDS.
Jeff Allen, a spokesman for the group, said it will present “The Faces of AIDS” at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Arts and Sciences.
Tickets are $35 for the play and a dinner. Call Allen at 386-235-6796 or the Health Planning Council at 386-323-2046 for tickets.
In addition, the Names Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display at Daytona State College in the Photography building #530 Dec. 6-7. The college is at 1200 W. International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach.
For more on World AIDS Day and related events, visit www.worldaidsweekdaytona.com.