Philadelphia Alumnae Sponsors World AIDS Day Discussion

Submitted by Concetta Lilly

The International Awareness & Involvement Committee of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter celebrated World AIDS Day 2022 on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at the New Joy Missionary Baptist Church. There were 43 people in attendance at the program; 26 were members of the community and the remaining 17 were committee and sorority members. A sister circle discussion was created to highlight the committee theme: “Reflection, Celebration, Rejuvenation.”

The program began with greetings from Co-Chair, Trina McLaine, followed by a meditation from First Lady Candace Smith, and welcoming remarks from the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter President, Dr. Penny Sparks Nixon. The committee’s purpose for acknowledging World AIDS Day was narrated by Soror Paula Lamb. Co-Chair Soror Concetta Lilly introduced Dr. Kimberley Brown, who moderated the discussion. Soror Brown engaged the program participants in a very lively discussion focusing on HIV in women and the affects COVID posed on the community. She emphasized the importance of clinical trials and closing the equity gap to make sure data is collected from black and brown women. She highlighted the new medications that are present on the market and explained in detail the meaning of Undetectable = Untransmittable. (U=U).

As participants engaged in the sister circle discussion, the community group, “Bebashi – Transition to Hope” provided free, confidential HIV testing, and NurseVaxPhilly provided COVID vaccines and boosters to combat the most recent variants. In addition, take home COVID tests were provided by the Philadelphia Health Department and were given to the program participants. Ten women were tested onsite for HIV, five were provided HIV take home kits, and 14 women received COVID boosters. 

At the conclusion of the program, all participants agreed that communication is key to spreading HIV awareness; and everyone needs to talk to their children, partners, community, and each other to make sure all are on the same page and aware of the information and resources that are available. Having the hard conversations of being tested will reduce the stigma surrounding HIV without running the risk of downplaying its seriousness.

The committee received comments indicating that this was a great program and very informative. The participants all stated that they learned new and valuable information to share with their students, family, friends, and women in their lives. Finally, everyone indicated that the presenter was EXCELLENT, personable, knowledgeable, and honest. Many thanked the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter for continuing to serve the community, and for providing a program on such a sensitive topic!

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