Cempa launches new initiative to fight HIV in minority communities
Minority communities are disproportionately impacted when it comes to HIV and other diseases.
Shannon Stephenson, Cempa CEO, says, "All over the south, we have higher numbers than the rest of the country."
Stephenson is the CEO of Cempa Community Cares. She says the numbers are even worse in our area.
Stephenson says, "Here in the Southeast, in our region where we serve there are 16 percent African Americans, and they comprise 56 percebt of our HIV diagnosis."
Cempa recently launched a new initiative "Cempa Talks."
The goal of this new initiative is to alleviate the huge disparities.
Cempa officials say it all starts with reaching young people.
LaDarius Price says, "it's catching kids on the front end and educating them about the different disparities as it relates to HIV as well as sexually transmitted infections."
Price is the Community Outreach Manager. He says both young people and adults have to realize the importance of healthy relationships and taking care of their health.
Price says, "so we have to model those healthy relationships and health behaviors in front of them consistently so they will truly understand just how important health is."
To help in this effort, Cempa is also teaming up with other organizations and those in the faith-based community.
Chris Ramsey, Pres. S.E. TN Health Consortium Foundation says, "we really see a need to work in the community year round."
Ramsey is over the Minority Health Fair, which takes place every August. He says there were hundreds of rapid HIV tests done, but partnering with urban churches will help reach even more people in the community.
Ramsey says, "we now have physicians, we have nurses, we have speech pathologists, we have all those talents that would exist in our churches, we're challenging the churches to go outside our four walls."
While prevention is key, HIV is no longer a death sentence with the latest medical advancements.
Shannon Stephenson says, "if you take a single pill every day, you can by CDC standards be virally suppressed, meaning you will no longer transmit the virus to others."
Stephenson says the tools are there, the key is getting people educated and tested.
Stephenson says, "we do have to break down the barriers and the stigma to getting tested."
She says it is important to remember that testing is free and confidential.
If you are interested in Cempa Talks, they will come out to speak to youth groups at churches, schools or other activities. Visit their website for more information.
The 2nd annual Orchard Knob Community Health Fair is scheduled for March 16 at Orchard Knob Elementary School. It will begin at 10:00 am and will last until 3:00 pm.