Empowerment Resource Center hosted their 8th annual “Take Charge. Get Tested.” event June 25. National HIV Testing Day was hosted at Hurt Park, which was their free HIV testing site where Empowerment “tests about 300-500 people every year,” says Bianca Jackson, Case Manager at Empowerment Resource Center, who spoke with VOX reporters at Hurt Park during the event.
“We constantly give back to the community by providing affordable STI and STD testing, providing free mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling,” she said. “We work with individuals in the community that are at risk.”
According to the Empowerment event flyer, this year’s theme was designed to encourage citizens to receive voluntary HIV testing, learn their status and promote an open dialogue about perinatal HIV transmission within the state of Georgia.
Among the startling rise in Atlanta-based HIV cases are:
- HIV is being seen in young people between the ages of 13-24 in every zip code in metro Atlanta
- GA is No. 1 in states with new cases of AIDS and No. 4 among states in new HIV cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Young people between the ages of 13-24 years old represent nearly 25 percent of all new HIV infections in the Atlanta metro area, according to the CDC
“We work with individuals who are currently 18 and older,” Jackson said. “But we take volunteers. That’s the way teenagers can be involved.” Empowerment takes volunteers year-round and on the weekend. They also offer internships.
Rushton Davis, a teen volunteer, traveled with her church group from Auburn, Alabama.
“I think it’s great what they’re doing down there because a lot of people could be dealing with certain diseases and not know about it or not have the capability to get treatment for it,” Davis, an Auburn High School senior, stated. “This, especially cause it’s free, is awesome because it’s providing ways for these people to get tested.”
Atlanta Teens can participate in AIDS and HIV prevention by volunteering with AIDS Atlanta and participating in future events this week. Teens under the age of 18 can also be tested with a parent’s consent.
If you’re interested in volunteering with Empowerment like Rushton, visit here.
–Additional reporting by Alexes Harris
Events This Week:
Fenux Magazine Health Fair
When: June 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..
Where: Pershing Point Plaza
AIDS 101 Awareness and Action Seminar
When: June 27 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.