The fifth annual “Hip Hop for HIV” testing campaign was held Wednesday at City Hall in Dallas. The event gives away concert tickets to those who are tested.
According to Zachary Thompson, director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department, “One of the things Hip Hop for HIV is able to do is to help people get through the stigma by helping people find out their status.” Dallas County records show that 40 percent of the 14,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2010 were black, as were 50 percent of newly diagnosed cases.
Test participants completed brief paperwork and were called two at a time into two testing rooms. Volunteers gave them an oral HIV test, with results generally available in 20 minutes. In the case of an HIV-positive result, a blood draw to confirm the initial diagnosis was offered.
Ed Jones, who works for the nonprofit AIDS Arms, said he wishes the event could occur “two or three times a year.” He agrees with Thompson that a “lack of education and availability of resources” may be leading to more infections
Council member Dwayne Caraway, an event sponsor, was also tested. He acknowledged that while HIV/AIDS hits the black community especially hard, Hip Hop for HIV wasn’t designed to target a specific ethnic group. “This event is aimed for people across all ethnic races. You need all people in Dallas-Fort Worth to know their status.”
Dallas radio personality, Ken “WildKard” Davis, of KBFB-FM (97.9), which provided the concert tickets, said he took the test to encourage others. “Statistically, we’re killing ourselves; black men don’t get tested enough,” he said. “They follow the stereotypes of, ‘I’m all right.’ And I think a lot of them don’t want to know.”
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Raven Haynes; Tatiana Marceleño
Local and Community News
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