SUBMITTED By BELINDA WILSON, PHN
CHEROKEE COMMUNITY HEALTH
Cherokee Community Health with its many healthcare partners, observed Cherokee’s 2nd annual “ National HIV Testing Day” on Thursday, June 27 by sponsoring an Island Celebration . The event was to promote the importance of counseling, testing, and early diagnosis of HIV and the frequent co-infection of Hepatitis C. Observance of National HIV Testing Day allows heath officials to focus community attention on the continued impact of the epidemics on communities across the country. Despite advances in treatment, education and outreach, a significant number of people continue to be unaware of their HIV and Hepatitis status, enter into treatment late, or are stigmatized.
The family-centered event was a huge success with approximately 200 people enjoying the beachballs, hotdogs, magician, leis and hula skirts. Fifty-six people participated in the oral rapid tests for HIV and Hepatitis-C. Many more people received valuable counseling about a variety of healthy behaviors, as well as take home goodies. A total of 25 door prizes were awarded to the community, generously donated by EBCI Health and Medical programs, other tribal programs, local merchants, and the Office of the Principal Chief.
The clinical testers from NCHHS and WNCAP, as well as Cherokee’s Community Health Nurses, noted participation from a younger audience seeking counsel about their risky behaviors. Their goal is for the Cherokee Community to adopt an “Early and Often” attitude about testing and look forward to this annual event as a “ Celebration of their Safety”.
EBCI Health and Medical officials related, “A hearty thank you goes out to all who participated, donated and prayed for the wonderful weather. A special thank you to the Chief’s office and the WIC program for sponsoring with generous monetary donations.”