World AIDS Day event in Kinston promotes disease awareness

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) – “Unite to fight against HIV.” Officials say that was the message from public service groups in the east as they spotlighted a global epidemic.

The Kinston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Lenoir County Health Department sponsored a World AIDS Day health fair at Gordon Street Christian Church in Kinston on Friday.

In addition to AIDS education, residents got information on access to resources, vouchers for fresh food, and free health screenings.

Delta Sigma Theta representative Natalia Gammons says the event is part of her sorority’s annual service project for the community.

“So many people need to know, this impacts so many individuals, it impacts families and people need to be aware of the situation, they need to be aware of how to prevent it so that they are not, so they don’t test positive themselves,” says Gammons.

World AIDS Day, designated on December 1st, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who’ve died from the disease.

Public Health Educator Astrid Guessennd says prevention from the virus is relatively easy.

“To protect yourself from contracting HIV, you need to use condoms or get tested every year depending on how sexually active you are and how many partners you have,” says Guessennd.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 40,000 people are living with HIV in North Carolina.

“Please…please be careful…whatever it is you need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones…please do it,” says Blackwell.

The Centers for Disease Control says it’s important for the public to know that anyone can contract HIV regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Health officials say another method for HIV prevention is the oral medication, known as PREP, which when taken as prescribed is highly effective.