February 7 is a day set aside to observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national mobilization effort designed to encourage African Americans across the nation to get tested and know their status.
Denario Cook and Jude Morea are two college students who decided to get tested for HIV.
Denario says, "We all should know our status and know where we stand on the situation, because if we're going to be out having sex we need to know if we're putting other people's life in danger, so I feel it's important. Everybody should know.”
Jude adds, "If you're going out there having sex you should know your status. I do feel a lot of people are scared and if they find out they have it, it's better to know than just going out there passing on the virus and making it worse.”
In fact, it has gotten worse. The Center for Disease Control states in 2003 African Americans accounted for 49 percent of the estimated AIDS cases diagnosed in the United States, and by the end of December 2003, more than 195,000 African Americans died from AIDS.
Community outreach organizers say those alarming statistics could be changed if people get tested. In fact, some tests can be done orally.
Manon Gant, Shisa Health Educator, says, "Them not having knowledge of HIV and contracting and using unprotected sex, and some people don't believe they can catch the disease and that's why it's going on in the black community."
It’s a community that has been devastated by this deadly disease that could be prevented with knowledge and protection.
Shisa Community Center in Tallahassee will conduct free confidential testing until 7 p.m. Monday night, and in Thomasville you can get free testing at First Missionary Baptist Church from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.