National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
I have been fortunate enough to work in the field of HIV prevention for a while now where I am able to recognize national awareness days like National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
When is National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
This year's National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was recognized on Sunday, August 29th, 2021. This day is observed to engage the faith communities to work together - not only to reduce stigma around HIV and AIDS but also to eliminate discrimination.
On this day we also continue to push HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and treatment in medical care. This national awareness day targets the various faith-based communities and brings awareness to churches that may not see HIV as affecting them.
Sunday service at the LGBT center
One major push from the faith community is to support people who work within the field of HIV prevention in raising awareness about the importance of HIV education and treatment.
My place of work teamed up with a local church within the community to have Sunday service on the day of National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Instead of the church having their usual Sunday service at their location, we were able to hold the service in the parking lot of our LGBT center.
During the Sunday service, we also took the opportunity to speak to the community about HIV education and prevention. Our reasoning behind this was that most of the individuals who attended the service may not typically visit our center and would not know of the services we offered or how important our site is to this specific community. Many of these individuals were also unaware of the importance of routine HIV testing.
Creating a safe, welcoming space
We wanted the environment to be safe and accepting for the church members as well as new community members who wanted to join the service.
So, we had a band playing and a performer singing and interacting with the crowd. We were able to get food items like coffee and pastries donated for the community to have during the service.
Access to services and information
The service was a way to remind the people in attendance about this nationally recognized awareness day as well as show appreciation to the church. We also offered free incentivized HIV testing throughout the service as well as access to information on support groups, primary care services, mental health services, food distribution and condoms.
One major stand out for this event was the COVID-19 testing. We were able to team up with another organization that offered free testing! During the event, they were able to test over 50 individuals as well as bring awareness to the event and our LGBT center.
Using awareness days to reach communities
Overall, the event was very successful in getting new individuals linked to HIV and COVID-19 testing and bringing together the faith-based community to recognize National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
As a community organization, we were able to highlight the need to recognize national days like this and continue to raise awareness to end the stigma of HIV.
Does living with HIV impact you financially?