December 3 marks the date of the Annual Durham World AIDS Day that will be held at the Holton Career Resource Center.
The Partnership for a Healthy Durham is hosting this year’s event with the theme of ‘Rock the RED: Represent Your Culture’.
The event is meant to commemorate those who are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. Yet, to some it also serves a dual purpose.
“I think it’s important to commemorate those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS,” said Nia Sutton, a Durham World AIDS day participant. “It doesn’t only commemorate those people, but it brings awareness about this preventable disease.
Sutton is an NCCU Junior majoring in Public Health. She is the coordinator for the NCCU segment of the event which will include De Haute Allure Modeling Troupe, Project Save A Fellow Eagle, and other NCCU students.
The Partnership for a Healthy Durham is housed within the Durham County Department of Public Health.
It is a coalition of local organizations and community members committed to improving the health of Durham residents.
They have 475 active members and partner primarily for Durham County Department of Public Health and Healthy Carolinians.
“This is an important event for Durham because stats show that Durham is ranked 4th for HIV/AIDS in North Carolina,” said Kanesha Whitworth, an assistant at UNC-School of Medicine.
“It is also a chance for community members, researchers, stakeholders, etc. to come together and celebrate the life of those who are living with the disease and who are with us.”
According the 2012 State of the County Health Report, the HIV rate remained stable at 27 per 100,000 within that survey period.
It also stated that the syphilis rate has declined consistently since 2007.
“The event would like to attract everyone,” said Whitworth. “We want no one to be left out. The saying I’ve heard before, ‘Black, White, Straight, or Gay, AIDS does not discriminate.’”
The North Carolina HIV/STD Quarterly Surveillance Report for the second quarter showed that the highest rate of incidents happened in the age range of 15-19.
“I believe that African American youth between the ages of 13 and 24 should attend because we are acquiring the disease at fastest rates,” said Sutton.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans accounted for an estimated 44 percent of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents in 2010.
“I definitely suggest African American women as well,” said Sutton.
In 2010, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among African American women was 20 times as high as the estimated rate of new HIV infections among white women.
Participants such as Whitworth are very hopeful about the event.
“I chose to get involved with the WAD 2013 event because I want people to know how serious the HIV/AIDS epidemic is, not only in the black community, but in Durham,” said Whitworth.
Everyone is encouraged to bring canned goods and non-perishable food items to the event for donation.
The canned goods will be given to the Alliance of AIDS Service of Durham and CAARE, Inc. for their food pantries.
The Alliance serves those living with AIDS and those affected by AIDS through advocacy, care, prevention, and education. CAARE, Inc. is a non-profit organization that promotes holistic and community approach to health.
Patrons are also encouraged to wear red apparel to show their awareness of HIV/AIDS and all community members are invited to attend.
National World AIDS Day is on December 1, 2013.