The event also featured other speakers, workshop sessions and an informational fair about various efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in the Black community. Students were also invited to take advantage of free rapid HIV testing.
“I wanted to check my status. I wanted to be sure and I wanted to be able to say concretely whether I was positive or not,” said Zeba Ahmed, a junior, after she received her results. “I appreciate that there’s people making an effort to raise awareness about the risks.”
According to a 2011 report by the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Health Department and the University of Pittsburgh, African-Americans represent 12 percent of the Allegheny County population, but 44 to 46 percent of those affected by HIV/AIDS. Of the new cases of HIV/AIDS reported in 2007, 85 percent were African-Americans between the ages of 13 and19, and 58 percent are between the ages of 20-29.
“We’ve been planning this to bring awareness here to Pittsburgh, considering the statistics aren’t comforting,” said MSO President Beatrice Lors. “We’re the most affected, a large percentage of the African-Americans being infected are college-aged students.”
This event was hosted in partnership with the Regional Resource Network Program-US Department of Health and Human Services-Region III, Pennsylvania/Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education & Training Center, Central Outreach Resource and Referral Center, AIDS Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Educating Teens About HIV/AIDS, Allegheny County Department of Health, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Pan-African Graduate & Professional Student Union, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and Black Action Society.