Did you know that Brooklyn leads the city in HIV/AIDS patients with more than 23,000? Or that Williamsburg and Bushwick have one of the borough’s highest rates with more than 3,700 cases? How about the fact that over a half million Brooklynites have never been tested for HIV/AIDS, some of whom are unwittingly spreading the disease?
Knowledge is power, say the North Brooklyn AIDS Awareness Coalition, consisting of La Nueva Esperanza, After Hours Project and Bushwick Youth Fighting Aids. And on June 1st, they will bring increased attention to the epidemic status of HIV/AIDS in the community and provide information about the importance of safe sex practices, HIV testing and a drug free lifestyle at the first annual North Brooklyn AIDS Awareness Walk.
The three mile walk will commence from Maria Hernandez Park and conclude at La Nueva Esperanza’s headquarters on Johnson Avenue and Humboldt Street. A block party and health fair will follow with skits performed by Bushwick Youth, salsa music from Eddie Montalvo y Sus Amigos and activities for kids. Free, confidential HIV/AIDS testing will be available as well as information about prevention and what to do if you’re positive.
“I want people to know that it’s still a threat,” said Annette Roque, Executive Director of La Nueva Esperanza. “A lot of our youngsters have never seen the face of AIDS, because of advances in medications. They don’t see the symptoms and figure they can have unprotected sex. They’re not afraid and not educated.” La Nueva Esperanza has been providing HIV prevention and education to the community since 2006, through one-on-one counseling and community forums. In addition, they provide food and nutritional advice to 130 patients, including deliveries to 36 who are homebound.
The North Brooklyn AIDS Walk is the brainchild of Roque and Andy Marte, the Group Leader of Bushwick Youth Against AIDS. Marte lost his father to AIDS when he was just six years old. After participating in the Manhattan AIDS Walk several times, he realized North Brooklyn needed a similar event, “to make people aware of the prevalence of AIDS cases in the community.” The youth aspect Marte brings is especially important, Roque noted, because “youths tend to listen to other youths.” The highest number of new HIV/AIDS cases in the community is among those ages 20 – 29.
Visit http://www.crowdrise.com/northbrooklynaidswalk to register or make a contribution to the walk. T-shirts will be provided to anyone contributing $10 or more. Donations may also be made directly to La Nueva Esperanza (213 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11206). Additional information may be obtained by e-mailing BKAIDSWalk2013@gmail.com.
“We hope everyone comes out on June 1st, to take a stand to help those who are negative to stay negative and those who are infected to live healthy lives,” concluded Roque.
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