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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 05, 2010

Matthew D'Oria
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
S. Patricia Cabrera
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Observes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Awards $250,000 to “Status is Everything” Campaign


In observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sunday, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services awarded the African American Office of Gay Concerns in Newark $250,000 in federal funds support of its campaign “Status is Everything.”


Sunday marks the ninth annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is designed to raise awareness of the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS has had in the African American community. It also serves as a reminder for those who may be at risk to get tested and to seek treatment if they test positive.


African Americans continue to bear the largest and most disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS of all racial, ethnic or demographic groups.  HIV/AIDS is the third leading cause of death for African American males and is the fifth leading cause for African American females. 


“National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day reminds us to continue mobilizing communities through education, testing, involvement and treatment,” said Laurence Ganges, Assistant Commissioner for the Department’s Division of HIV/AIDS Services.


“Successful public health efforts have reduced the number of new infections, but despite the existence of strong proven prevention programs, individuals are still becoming infected with a preventable disease. This is particularly true in minority communities and that’s why HIV testing is so important,’’ Ganges said.


Although African Americans make up 14 percent of the state’s total population, they make up 56 percent of adults living with HIV/AIDS. African American children comprise 74 percent of pediatric HIV/AIDS cases. African American women account for 64 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS.


“Status is Everything,” is an HIV testing and prevention campaign specifically targeted to African American gay men in the Newark area between the ages of 18-24. It is the first HIV social marketing campaign to use text messaging to provide 24 hour instant access to local Newark based testing centers by texting 36363 with NJ and the person’s zip code (i.e. NJ07102.)


The “Status is Everything,” campaign features outdoor billboard advertising, bus and movie theater ads and interactive e-cards and social media integration on, the campaign’s official website. 


The campaign connects those living with HIV or newly testing positive for the virus, with the treatment and care services they need,” Ganges said. “This partnership is critical as we continue our efforts to reach the most at-risk populations.”


For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit the Division of HIV/AIDS Services web page at: For information on HIV testing, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit


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