HIV testing to be offered free today at several sites

Amid mounting concern over the heavy burden of HIV/AIDS on the black community, public and private groups throughout the region will offer free testing today in observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

"I haven't seen another issue with the kind of community involvement we have on AIDS," Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's health commissioner, said at a news conference yesterday.


Sharfstein and other health advocates urged people of all races who aren't sure of their HIV status to have themselves tested and, if they test positive, to enter counseling and treatment programs.

"Knowing your status, learning about HIV and learning to protect yourselves and your loved ones from becoming infected is the only way we can stop the spread of this deadly disease," said Carnell Thomas Jr., Maryland coordinator of Lifelinc, a coalition of groups fighting the epidemic.


In Maryland, African-Americans make up 29 percent of the population but 82 percent of people with HIV/AIDS. Nationally, blacks account for 13 percent of the population and almost half of all AIDS/HIV cases.

Free testing and counseling will be offered today at the following locations:

New Shiloh Baptist Church, 2100 N. Monroe St., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (provided by Total Health Care and United Healthcare).

New Song School, 1385 N. Gilmor St., 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (provided by the Baltimore City Health Department).

Coppin State University, Tawes Ballroom, 2500 W. North Ave., 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (provided by Sisters Together and Reaching).

Institute of Human Virology, 725 W. Lombard St., 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Mount Calvary AME Church, 300 Eudowood Lane, Towson, noon to 8 p.m. (provided by the Baltimore County Health Department). The event will include speeches, exhibits and performances by Poetry for the People Baltimore.

The nonprofit group Women Accepting Responsibility will test inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup.


Also, Bowie State University will screen the AIDS documentary Tangy's Song from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Center for Learning Technology, 14000 Jericho Park Road.