November 3, 2011
On Saturday October 15th I volunteered and participated at the Kick HIV -- Patea el VIH soccer tournament that takes place every National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). This was my second year helping out and participating in the tournament. You can read my blog from last years event here. Again this year my fellow Philadelphia Falcons Ed and Greg put this amazing event together. So kudos to them for making the event a success. I was honored to be a part of it in some way.
I have said before and will say it again I love this event because it brings my 2 passions together. Soccer and HIV/AIDS Awareness. How could I not want to be a part of this. During the soccer games there was also a Health Fair going on offering free literature and HIV testing . They hold this event to raise awareness about the impact that HIV/AIDS is having among Latino communities in Philadelphia. This year they reported they had a record number of people come and get tested then in previous years. So that alone is incredible.
1st & 2nd place.
Over all the day was great. I got to play some soccer and watch the other play as well. We had 2 Mens teams and 3 Womens teams along with the 4 Kids teams. This kids were great to watch. They played their little hearts out and they had so much passion. It was incredible to watch. It reminded me of when I was younger and my biggest problem was not scoring a goal at a soccer game... "oh those were the days".
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a serious threat to the Hispanic/Latino community. Hispanics/Latinos comprise 15% of the U.S. population but accounted for 17% of all new HIV infections occurring in the United States in 2006. (CDC HIV/AIDS Facts: HIV/AIDS Among Hispanics/Latinos, Updated August 2009.)
In Philadelphia, where the overall HIV rate is 5 times the national average, there were 2,324 Hispanic persons living with HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia (as of December 31, 2009) -- that is 12% of all People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Philadelphia. Of these almost 30% are female, and 70% are 40 and older.
Of course I brought my Dab the AIDS Bear with me to this event and even shared his story with a few people. The one thing I wanted to talk about was something that happened during this event. I received a phone call from a POZIAMer. I missed his call so he left a message. When I first reached him back I explained I was at a soccer tournament and would call him an hour or two. Once I finished playing my last game I sat down next to the club house and returned his call. He had a situation come up that he was worried about and he wanted my advice about it.
We spoke for about 20 minutes or so and by the end of the phone call I could tell he was in a better place and so was I. Just having that conversation made my day. This is what people do not realize: that small conversations can save lives. That is all I every really wanted to do was help others who are HIV+ get past the junk that clogs our brain after a diagnosis. Help them find a way back to who they were before HIV
.... So until next year Keep Kicking HIV