August 9, 2011
On Saturday, Rochester-based AIDS Care will hold its annual "A Call to Women of Color" social gathering, an informational, empowerment, and esteem-building event. This year's focus will be on women of color ages 13-25, who are at increased risk for STDs and HIV.
"We're trying to get the message to young women about how serious this epidemic is right now," said Sady Fischer, the group's associate director of minority AIDS initiatives. "We're trying to get the message to adult women to not only have the conversation with one another, but with their youths, and have that conversation in their household."
The five-year-old event has grown from a backyard gathering to one drawing up to 300 participants and requiring a reservation. The noon-6 p.m. get-together is free; includes lunch; and features speakers, music, dance, and poetry intended to build one's sense of self-worth. HIV testing and blood pressure screenings will be offered.
"I believe it's been successful because of the social side," Fischer said. "It instills a sense of sisterhood we need to keep each other healthy and safe."
Monroe County had 80 new HIV cases last year, and 10 were among women. However, of the 10 women, nine were black and four were younger than 30. Of the 677 female gonorrhea cases in 2010, 497 were in black women, and of the 3,828 female chlamydia cases, 2,291 were among black women. Most of the female chlamydia and gonorrhea cases were patients ages 15-24.
"Those numbers are individuals," Fischer said. "There's an individual impact. There's a family impact."
Reservations are requested by Tuesday for the gathering at AIDS Care, 259 Monroe Ave.; telephone 585-210-4126, or e-mail jdozier@acRochester.org.