Saturday event to promote HIV testing

LAURINBURG — Area health agencies are sponsoring a free event on Saturday aimed at educating the community about the increasing presence of HIV and AIDS in Scotland County and emphasizing the importance of being tested.

Scotland County Health Department’s HIV Education and Resource Team — H.E.A.R.T — along with the Border Belt AIDS Team — B.A.R.T. — are sponsoring “HEART in the Park” from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the J.L. Morgan Complex on Turnpike Road.

“H.E.A.R.T.’s goal is to raise awareness about the impact HIV is having on our community and the fact that the number of people living with this disease is increasing significantly in our county,” said Kathie Cox, the health department’s public educator.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of HIV diagnoses is highest in the South, with 24,323 diagnoses or 20.5 per 100,000 people. In Scotland County, seven have been diagnosed with the virus so far this year.

The CDC estimates that that 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in seven are not aware that they are infected. The CDC recommends that people age 13-64 years of age get tested for HIV at least once.

Saturday’s family-friendly event features free activities such as face painting, music, cornhole, a cake walk, door prizes and refreshments. Access to the complex’s splash pad will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon. A guest speaker will provide a short presentation and Robeson Health Care Corporation will offer free and confidential testing for HIV and Hepatitis C.

For information about HIV/AIDS or the HEART event, call Evangeline McArthur, H.E.A.R.T. Co-Chair, at 910-277-2470, Ext. 4486.