November 28, 2010
10-201

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Worlds AIDS Day 2010

VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta State University community will focus its attention on the global AIDS epidemic during World AIDS Day on Wednesday, Dec 1, with free HIV/AIDS testing and a free informational speaker in the University Center.

The South Health District will provide free and confidential HIV testing to all from 10 a.m. - noon and 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the University Center Lobby. An area doctor will address the public at an informational luncheon from 11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. in the University Center Cypress Room.

Go to www.valdosta.edu/finadmin/wellness/ to register for the luncheon and presentation, sponsored by the South Health District, VSU Campus Wellness Committee, Health Promotions and the College of Nursing. The first 100 registrants will receive a free box lunch. Medical professionals in attendance may receive Certified Medical Education credits through Medical College of Georgia and others may earn Continuing Education Units for professional development.

South Health District’s Infectious Disease Coordinator, Brenda Mims, said it is important for people to recognize World AIDS Day and the impact the disease has had on our society. Since AIDS was first identified in the United States in 1981, it is estimated that more than one million have become infected with the HIV virus. Advancements in drug therapy and preventative education are among the steps the world has taken to fight back against the epidemic, but Mims said our work will never be done.

“The vast majority of people who live with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income situations. Health care and support are not a need, but a fundamental right,” Mims said. “There is a saying that AIDS affects or infects everyone, so it is important that we all recognize what we can do to help spread the word about HIV/AIDS and push for universal access to health care for those infected.”

According to UNAIDS -- the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS -- estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007, some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. About half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 years old and die from related complications of the disease before they turn 35.

For those students and employees unable to attend the Dec. 1 event, the Lowndes County Health Department offers free HIV testing and counseling services at its main clinic, 206 S. Patterson St. in Valdosta, as well as its locations in Lake Park, 751 Country Rd., and Hahira, 503 W. Main St. The South Health District’s Adult Health Promotions Clinic coordinates support groups for those infected with HIV. E-mail John Rogers at jwrogers@dhr.state.ga.us, for more information about AIDS support in the region.

For more information about the South Health District or the Worlds AIDS Day at VSU, call Public Health Educator, January Smith, at (229) 245-8711 ext. 241 or e-mail her at jmsmith5@dhr.state.ga.us.

*Parking is available at the Valdosta City Board of Education located off of Williams St.