TUCSON (Observer Update) - On April 28, 2009, the Kaiser Family Foundation released their latest poll on Americans’ attitudes about HIV/AIDS. Their headlines were:
“LESS THAN A YEAR AFTER CDC ANNOUNCED THE U.S. HIV EPIDEMIC IS MUCH LARGER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT, PUBLIC’S SENSE OF URGENCY IS DOWN, EVEN AMONG SOME HIGHER RISK GROUPS”
“Sense of Personal Risk Falls for Young Adults, Testing Rates are Stagnant”
“Amidst Call for Stepped Up Focus on Domestic HIV/AIDS, There is Public Support for More Spending and the Public Believes Greater Efforts on Prevention Will Make a Difference”
The press release goes on to say, “The share of those ages 18-29 who say they are personally very concerned about becoming infected with HIV declined from 30 percent in 1997 to 17 percent today.” The Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN) believes that young Tucsonans need to know the facts of HIV/AIDS to prevent becoming infected, know that HIV infection is not a ‘death sentence,’ and realize when they need to be tested for HIV. TIHAN provides free educational presentations on HIV/AIDS without prejudice or proselytism. These presentations are essential to combat the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS, even after over 20 years of the AIDS epidemic. As the Kaiser Family Foundation report said, “Misconceptions may be a factor in stigma, and several remain when it comes to correct information about HIV transmission. One-third (34%) of Americans incorrectly believe or are unsure whether HIV can be transmitted by one of the following actions: sharing a drinking glass (27%), touching a toilet seat (17%), or swimming in a pool with an HIV positive person (14%)…People who harbor misconceptions about transmission are more likely to say they would be uncomfortable working with someone with HIV (43% versus 13% who correctly answered questions about transmission) and more likely to be uncomfortable having their food prepared by an HIV positive person (71% compared to 40%).” Armed with accurate information and resources, Tucsonans can help educate others and alleviate the suffering and stigma by volunteering to support those living with HIV right here in our community. To respond to the need for education and volunteering, TIHAN has scheduled a four-hour orientation for those interested in learning more and getting involved. TIHAN Volunteer Orientation is Thursday, May 14, 5:15-9:15 p.m. at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, 1350 North Arcadia Avenue (north of Speedway Boulevard). Cost is $17 which includes a light meal and printed materials. Call TIHAN, 299-6647, to sign up.
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