The HIV/AIDS epidemic has long since had a strong impact on the African American community, and over time, its impact has deepened. Several studies show that Black Americans account for more new HIV cases, people living with the disease, and HIV-related deaths than any other racial group in the United States.
In an attempt to curb the large number of young adults in Washington D.C. affected by HIV/AIDS, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing prevention and education services to homeless youth and young adults, will launch an HIV testing social media campaign on June 20 dubbed #Never2Early. The campaign is centered on encouraging youths ages 13 to 24 that have never been tested to get tested.
“There are a lot of young people out there who are not being tested or just don’t know about their status,” said Jasmine Williams, the Prevention, Outreach, Wellness, Education, and Risk Education (P.O.W.E.R.) Program HIV tester and counselor. “The campaign is an opportunity for us to not only seek out young people who have never been tested before, but to also normalize HIV and STI testing as a regular of taking care of themselves on the same level of importance as getting a physical every year.”
Under the organization’s program, the social media campaign will take place 2 – 6 p.m. June 20 with a day party, geared towards teen ages 14 to 18 at 2001 11th St. NW.
About 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year, and out of that number, one in four infected by the disease will be a 13 to 24-year-old, according to a CDC report.
In addition, the CDC states that about 26 percent of young adults age 13 to 24 accounted for all new infections in the United States. Unfortunately, about 50 percent of those infected with HIV in the United States are unaware that they are infected. The disease is most prevalent among the African-American and Latino community, especially among gay and bisexual men.
“The #Never2Early hashtag is not only a way for us to use social media to get the young people’s attention, but it’s also a way to remind young people that ‘you’re never too young to talk about HIV, because that’s also a part of prevention,’” said Williams.
Primarily, the organization works with young adults who reside in Wards 5, 7, and 8. These Wards are generally considered low income and account for a majority of HIV positive cases, according to Williams.
The program offers a host of workshops that educate the youth of D.C. about the dangers of unsafe sex in addition to offering comprehensive risk counseling and testing services.
During the launch of the social media campaign #Never2Early, youth will get information on testing sites, and a wealth of information on HIV and STIs. The day party will also feature a live DJ, food, and more. “The day party will be a space for young people to have fun, and to be encouraged to get tested,” Williams said. “There will also be booth were people can stop by to learn about their sexual health.”
For more information about the social media campaign, the organization urges the public to visit their website and social media sites at: http://www.sbypower.com/, Instagram: https://instagram. com/sbypower/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbypower, Tumblr: https://twitter.com/ sbypower and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ sbypower?_rdr.