National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

According to the CDC, youth with HIV are least likely to be aware of their infection. There were 37,968 new diagnoses in the United States in 2018 and about 7,891 of those were youth. This number represents a total of 21 percent of new diagnoses being youth. 1

Every day in my personal and professional life, I express to my community that to address HIV infection rates in youth, we need to continue promoting sexual prevention and education.

The importance of engaging youth

One specific awareness day that I make sure to always highlight is NYHAAD or National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This awareness day speaks to the importance of engaging youth around the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is recognized every year on April 10.

This specific day is now commemorated across schools and colleges across the country. The representation of this day is a big step in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the community understanding the importance of youth being able to access this important information.

In honor of National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I am organizing a community event called Dress for Success. This will be a free event targeting youth and homeless individuals within the community.

Reaching underserved youth

The idea of the event is to turn our organization's parking lot into a pop-up retail store where community members can come and shop for free. We currently have four donation sites where individuals or businesses can drop off new or slightly used clothing.

I am trying to give the youth and homeless population in the surrounding communities a simple and free way to shop for things like suits, ties, skirts, and dress shoes. These clothes that are given to them can be used for things like interviews and job searches.

In addition to the free clothes, the community will have access to hairstylists, barbers, and makeup artists throughout the event. All these people will be donating their time for free on the day of the event. A partner organization will be assisting the day of with cover letters and individual resumes. I will also be having Starbucks conducting on the spot interviews for local stores that are hiring.

Providing additional opportunities

My hope is that the community could find dress clothes, work on their resume and end the day with either a training or mock interview or an actual interview from a Starbucks representative.

Other than all of these services we will also be having a DJ and a few drag queen performances throughout the event. Even though the event is catered to employing youth I still want it to be an interactive and fun environment. We will also be supplying a free taco truck and photobooth for the youth to enjoy with their friends.

National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an important day to recognize within my own life and community. I also was considered a youth back when I was diagnosed with HIV. I continue to promote and hold these types of events in order to continuously raise awareness and push for more HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

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