News Release

Free HIV Testing On Site at the Essence Music Festival

July 1, 2011

Week-Long Greater Than AIDS Statewide Testing Tour Culminates at this Weekend’s Festival in New Orleans, July 1st-3rd

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Friday, 1st July, 2011 – Greater Than AIDS, a national campaign to respond to HIV/AIDS in the United States, has teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and other partners to promote HIV testing in conjunction with the annual ESSENCE Music Festival, taking place today through Sunday, July 3rd at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Greater Than AIDS’ presence at this weekend’s ESSENCE Music Festival caps off more than a week of activities across Louisiana to encourage HIV testing and provide free screenings for Louisiana residents.

“We have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic as we know it. We know how to diagnose those who are infected, identify the communities most heavily affected, prevent transmission, and prevent acquisition of the virus. Dramatically expanding HIV testing and linkages to care is a critical step toward that end,” said Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, a co-founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. The Black AIDS Institute is coordinating the on-site testing with local partners.

Rapid oral HIV tests will be offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the weekend at the Greater Than AIDS booth (#302), where visitors will also receive information about HIV/AIDS and record their “Deciding Moments” as part of a national photo and video promotion with Walgreens to mark the 30th year of AIDS:

Rockmond Dunbar (PRISON BREAK), Regina King (SOUTHLAND, 24), Lamman Rucker (MEET THE BROWNS), among other celebrities at the Festival are planning to pay visit to the Greater Than AIDS booth to reinforce the importance of HIV testing. Prizes and other incentives are also being provided to encourage testing.

Last month, the Black AIDS Institute and the Louisiana Department of Health kicked off the “LOUISIANA > AIDS: Road to ESSENCE Testing Tour” – a six-city testing caravan that provided free HIV testing at events in Shreveport (June 25th), Alexandria (June 26th), Lake Charles (June 27th), Lafayette (June 28th), Baton Rouge (June 29th), and New Orleans (June 30th). In the lead up to National HIV Testing Day (June 27), Greater Than AIDS partner Walgreens, together with the Louisiana Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), provided free screenings for HIV at five Walgreens retail locations in New Orleans on June 22 to 24.

According to the CDC, more than 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV today, yet 20 percent of those who are positive do not know their status. And, one in three people with HIV are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they develop AIDS within one year. The CDC encourages all Americans to get tested.

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About Greater Than AIDS

Greater Than AIDS is a collaboration among a broad coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States, in particular among Black Americans and other disproportionately affected groups. Through a national media campaign and targeted community outreach, Greater Than AIDS aims to increase knowledge and understanding about HIV/AIDS and confront the stigma surrounding the disease.

The Kaiser Family Foundation – a non-profit private operating foundation dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible information, research and analysis on health issues – provides strategic direction and day-to-day management, as well as oversees the production of the media campaign. The Black AIDS Institute – a think tank exclusively focused on AIDS in Black America – provides leadership and expert guidance and directs community engagement. Greater Than AIDS is developed in support of Act Against AIDS, an effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to refocus attention on the domestic epidemic. Additional, financial and substantive support is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Ford Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund, among others.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.