National HIV Testing Day in Los Angeles
Being both HIV-positive and working within the field of public health, it is my duty to raise awareness and recognize the importance of promoting days like National HIV Testing Day.
I have been fortunate enough within my career to be able to put on events recognizing days like this.
What is National HIV Testing Day?
National HIV Testing Day is recognized annually on June 27th. NHTD or National HIV Testing Day is a day to encourage the community to get tested for HIV and raise awareness about knowing one's status.
I was able to put on two different HIV testing events within the last week. One event was held two days before National HIV Testing Day in South Los Angeles and the other event happened three days after in East Los Angeles.
Both of these events promoted HIV testing and getting the community linked to care and treatment.
Hosting NHTD resource fair
The first event I held in honor of National HIV Testing Day was a resource fair that included outreach tables from partner organizations that we work with.
Making needed items, resources, and referrals
Fresh food, new clothes, hygiene kits, hot vegan meals, and HIV testing were also a part of the event. All of these things that were part of the resource fair were free and open to the community throughout the time of the event.
We do a great job of holding partnerships with other local organizations that offer things like legal services, mental health services, shelters, showers, and food. We made sure to have all of this information as well as referrals available to the community.
I also teamed up with a vegan food distribution site to give us free vegan hot meals that we gave out alongside one fresh grocery bag full of fruits and vegetables and one dry food box filled with things like bread, pasta, and beans.
Through all of the extra services we offered, we still made sure to stand by our mission of promoting HIV testing regularly.
A drag show and resource fair
The second event I held was a resource fair and drag show for the community.
I gave local up-and-coming drag queens around the area an opportunity to perform in front of their community. The drag performances were a huge success and, out of all the attendees of the show, we were able to get more than half of them to get an HIV test.
Reaching various groups
What I loved about these events was the fact that there were so many different people who attended, ranging in age, gender, sexual orientation, and race.
I love this because usually I do targeted outreach for men who have sex with men between the ages of 18 to 29 years old. But, these community events got other targeted demographics tested as well.
HIV awareness days are important
Overall, both events were crucial in the community to get people tested for HIV. There were both individuals who got tested regularly and a few that even got tested for the first time.
I believe that recognizing days like National HIV Testing Day still plays a huge impact in the fight against HIV stigma and getting us one step closer to ending the epidemic.
Do you plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine?