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For Release:
February 04, 2011

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications

February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


“It Takes a Village to Fight HIV/AIDS!” is the theme of the 2011 National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7, emphasizing the vital role of families and communities in fighting an epidemic that disproportionately impacts African Americans, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh said today.


National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day encourages African-Americans to get involved in community HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, and to get tested for HIV.


“When it comes to HIV/AIDS, silence is deadly.  This day reminds us we must constantly confront this issue, and talk openly about HIV/AIDS,” Commissioner Alaigh said. “It’s also important to get tested for HIV because there are medical treatments available that can help people live longer, healthier lives.  The sooner you know your HIV status, the sooner you can get into treatment.”


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting an HIV test should be a routine part of preventive health care.  The CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services encourage health care providers to offer testing to patients from age 13 to 64.  Ask your provider at your next check-up.


One in 62 African Americans in New Jersey is living with HIV/AIDS, compared with 1 in 701 non-Hispanic whites.


African-Americans make up 14 percent of New Jersey’s population.  They represent 56 percent of all adults/adolescents who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the state.  African-American women account for 63 percent of all women living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey, while African-American men account for 49 percent of all men living with the disease.


To mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and The New Jersey Human Development Corporation are holding an event on Monday, February 7 at the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church – The Great Hall, 34 Pennington Avenue, Trenton.  Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Speakers include Bishop Richard F. Norris, the Presiding Prelate of the 1st Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a panel of guests including Dr. Jack Washington, motivational speaker and lecturer in African American History, and Dr. Kathleen M. Gekowski, Medical Director of the Capital Health System - Mercer Early Intervention Services. 


DHSS is working to prevent and reduce the spread of HIV in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the epidemic.  The DHSS program Sisters Informing Sisters on Topics About AIDS (SISTA) helps women reduce their risks, while Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) focuses on men who have sex with men.  Project FAITH works with faith leaders, who communicate culturally appropriate messages in their communities to help change risk behaviors and social norms regarding HIV/AIDS.  Project Rebuild is designed to combat community epidemics by focusing on the family rather than on the individual. 


          For information on HIV testing, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit the DHSS web site at:


For more information on HIV/AIDS visit the Division of HIV, STD and TB Services web site at


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