The following press release was issued:
The Bristol Mayor’s Task Force on HIV/AIDS held its annual World AIDS Day event at the Hartford Dispensary’s Opioid Treatment Program on Farmington Avenue on November 30. Over 240 patients and families received a variety of pamphlets, brochures and were offered free, confidential HIV/AIDS testing.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health last reported 82 people known living with HIV in 2009. The Bristol Mayor’s Task Force on HIV/AIDS has been working for 22 years attempting to bring awareness to the community about the ongoing HIV epidemic. Awareness of risky behaviors that people in the city continue to be involved in is one priority of the group, while providing information and improving services for those affected and infected is another.
The Task Force, which meets once a month, plans five events per year, attempting to reach a cross-section of Bristol’s residents. The annual AID Candlelight Vigil is held in October. A workshop was organized at the Bristol Senior Center this fall to bring attention to the issue that numbers of older Americans with HIV have been increasing.
In addition to the annual World AIDS Day event, the group will hold its annual HIV Education Forum for medical and social service professionals, in April and then will sponsor a program for teens at the Bristol Boys and Girls Club and Family Center in late spring.
There were many clients and family members at the Hartford Dispensary on Friday who were thankful for the information provided. Several commented that it was a reminder for them of those affected/infected as well as reminding them to be aware of their own health status.
“With the release of home HIV tests this fall, it is more important than ever to ensure that people know where to go to receive services if they test positive. Today’s event marks another success in educating and raising awareness in the Bristol community,” said Christina Cipriani, chair of the Task Force.