By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Dozens of Alabama lawmakers are expected to take part in a testing drive on Wednesday to raise HIV and AIDs awareness.
The lawmakers will get tested at an event at the Alabama State House for Black HIV/AIDs Awareness Day, Feb. 7. Many of the lawmakers are black but some white members signalled on the House floor Tuesday that they would also take part in the event to help raise awareness.
Rep. Laura Hall, D-Birmingham, invited House leadership — Republican Speaker MacMcCutcheon, Republican Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter and Rep. Mike Jones — to participate in the testing event.
The Alabama Department of Public Health will be on site to provide free, rapid HIV tests.
“Even though it is about African-Americans in terms of awareness, we also know that in the state of Alabama, as we deal with opioids, that AIDs is another major factor that is threatening our citizens’ wellbeing,” Hall said.
More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today but 1 out of every 7 people infected with the virus doesn’t even know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While new HIV cases has declined by 18 percent since 2008, 39,782 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2016, and Southern States are the hardest hit — accounting for 50 percent of new infections.