February 24, 2012
African Americans in Southwestern Pennsylvania only represent 7 percent of the population, yet comprise 39 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS, notes the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. That high HIV/AIDS rate is exacerbated by poor access to treatment, lack of trust in providers, being uninsured, and the fear of HIV-related stigma, said Chuck Christen, PATF's executive director.
Terry Fluker, an HIV/AIDS activist who has had AIDS since the 1990s, has written, co-directed, and produced a play, "Who Me? HIV/AIDS," to help turn those statistics around. The play, being staged 4 p.m. Sunday at the August Wilson Center, interweaves personal stories of people living with HIV/AIDS with gospel, hip hop, R&B, and creative dance presentations by local artists. Educational materials and condoms also will be distributed afterward.
"It's a play about HIV/AIDS awareness education and encouraging people to get treatment and care," said Fluker. The play aims to reach "those having unprotected sex and those with the disease who are not under treatment and care," including African-American men who have sex with men, he noted. "Who Me?" also encourages testing for those who are possibly unwittingly HIV-infected.
Co-sponsored by PATF and the HIV testing manufacturer OraSure, the play targets all age groups and "brings forward the faces of people living with HIV/AIDS," notes Christen. "It tells them you need to be worried about this ... and that there's hope."
Free tickets to "Who Me?" are available to anyone tested for HIV this week at PATF, Persad Center Inc., or the Gay and Lesbian Community Center testing sites.
For additional ticket information, contact Fluker at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dorsey's Record Shop, 7614 Frankstown Ave., Homewood.