I must say that last week was quite an eye-opening experience for myself and the other AmeriCorps members. You see, a few months ago we introduced ourselves to Oasis, Community Health Center’s HIV/AIDS clinic. They received us so warmly and we immediately knew that we wanted to become more involved with them. We quickly said ‘yes’ when Kasey Harding, director of HIV services at Oasis, asked us if we would be interested in helping out with their annual World AIDS Day affair that happens on December 1st. So, over the last week, we have been preparing for the event by making posters, planning the list of baked goods that we will bring and making red scarves to hand out to those who will be in attendance. The staff at Oasis was so happy to see our enthusiastic nature that they inquired further to see if any of us would be interested in becoming trained to be HIV testers and counselors. They were even more shocked when all of us responded positively to this offer.
First off, I want to thank Kasey Harding, Jim Kelley, Maria Lorenzo and the other guest speakers for going out of their way to provide such a stimulating and thorough training. We learned so much valuable, life-changing information through this training that I could sit here for hours writing about what we learned. I realize I cannot do that due to limits of time and space so I will bullet a few of the thoughts/facts that I took away from this training.
- Know your HIV status. If you don’t know then you don’t know.
- Disease does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how wealthy or poor you are or how beautiful or healthy you look.
- Don’t assume that just because you have been with your partner for a long time that you are free from the possibility of contracting HIV. Again, HIV doesn’t discriminate and unless it is very advanced or your partner is showing symptoms, it is quite possible that they could be unaware that they have it.
- Protect and educate yourself, so that you can protect and educate others.
I am happy to say that I know my status and I am looking forward to help educate and test others so that we can all protect each other and know where we stand. If you would like to know your status, you can get tested free of charge at Oasis, located at 33 Ferry Street in Middletown, CT. It is rapid testing and you will have your results in 10 minutes. It will be done confidentially in a safe and comfortable environment.
Furthermore, please support Oasis and AmeriCorps on December 1st for the World AIDS Day Event! As I gather more information regarding the details of the event, I will post details on facebook and twitter. We look forward to seeing you there!