Later this month, the Volusia/Flagler Minority AIDS Network is hosting a free HIV prevention conference at Bethune-Cookman University targeting black men in Volusia County. A state Department of Health initiative, "Man Up" encourages men to get involved in the HIV/AIDS fight and be responsible in their sexual behavior. Breakout sessions will include discussions about STDs, HIV-related misconceptions, and the church and HIV.
"We expect to be able to educate attendees and make them aware of what is going on in our community in reference to HIV/AIDS," said Tabitha Robinson, the region's Minority AIDS coordinator. Despite AIDS' decades-long history, lack of awareness and disease-related stigma continue to further HIV's spread, she said.
"They [black men] are not aware of how they can be infected and are afraid to be tested," Robinson said, and people who receive an HIV-positive diagnosis fear "being associated with the disease."
Teresa White, a Minority AIDS coordinator, will be one of the speakers at the conference. Over the past eight years, White has taken her HIV prevention character "Condom Miranda" throughout Florida and Georgia, garnering community awards and national recognition.
Women are welcome to attend. Free rapid HIV testing and flu shots will be available at the conference, held March 26, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the university's L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing, 739 International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.
Registration continues through March 25, and the first 100 registrants will receive lunch. A drawing for a flat-screen TV will be held at the meeting's conclusion. For more information, visit www.minorityaidsnetwork.org.