OSDH Press Release
OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 30, 2020) – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) joins a number of community-based organizations and agencies in recognizing World AIDS Day, Dec 1, by strengthening the capacity and resilience of communities to address HIV prevention in the midst of a global pandemic.
The OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service coordinates prevention and intervention, care delivery and surveillance and analysis of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases throughout the state. It also administers federal grants designated to prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV/AIDS as Oklahoma has been identified as one of seven states with high rural burden of HIV. Funds are channeled through community organizations in the state who provide services such as free testing and case management to help place those in need of further medical treatment.
Terrainia Harris, interim director of the OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service, said community-based organizations are a critical component in reaching those in need of services who may not have insurance or access to a primary health care provider.
“People living with HIV can live long, healthy lives,” said Harris. “But, it would not be possible without our community partners who are working to educate and provide testing and treatment. Proper prevention and early detection are important in getting someone into care and reducing the spread of the disease.”
In addition to testing and condom distribution, some organizations offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications to help prevent people who test negative from getting HIV when taken as prescribed.
“These organizations provide a safe and confidential option for services by reaching clients who may not ask for help due to the stigma attached,” said Harris. “We have to normalize the conversation around sexual health and the importance of testing for everyone, regardless of their lifestyle.”
OSDH compiled a list of a few organizations and their planned activities in recognition of World AIDS Day:
- Oklahomans for Equality and the Grateful Day Foundation will feature an art exhibit dedicated to those impacted by HIV, “POZitive Art” where pieces are submitted by individuals living with HIV as well as a section for art in remembrance or support of those with HIV/AIDS. The exhibit is open in-person and virtually throughout the month of December. All proceeds from art sales will benefit the Grateful Day Foundation.
- Guiding Right, Inc. accepts walk-ins for HIV testing. The organization will also be featured on KVSP 1140 AM Radio during the open mic segment.
- Caring Hands Healthcare Centers offer free screenings and testing during the month of December.
- Variety Care will feature internal and external timelines documenting the history of HIV/AIDS while staff advocate with T-shirts and host a food drive, Dec. 1-21, to support Other Options Inc.
- AIDS Walk of OKC, Inc. will have a digital announcement of their 2020 grant recipients via their social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information about HIV in Oklahoma and the OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service, visit shhr.health.ok.gov. To search for an HIV testing site by zip code, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov.