HIP to Participate in Pride Events

The High Impact Prevention (HIP) project, brought to you by WellFlorida Council, will be attending both the Ocala PrideFest on Oct. 7 and the Gainesville Pride festival on Oct. 21. HIP will offer free and confidential HIV testing at the Ocala event, which will take place at Citizen’s Circle on Southeast Osceola Avenue between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. At Gainesville Pride festival, the Alachua County Health Department will provide HIV testing via mobile bus. HIP will have educational materials at the Gainesville celebration, which will take place between 1 and 9 p.m. on the Bo Diddley Community Plaza, located at 111 E. University Ave. In an effort to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, attendees of both festivals are encouraged to stop by the HIP table and access free brochures, tote bags, pens, sunglasses and other promotional items.

Ocala’s 11th annual PrideFest will feature live music, drag performances, food trucks, vendors, a raffle and face painting. Two weeks after Ocala’s celebration, starting at noon, participants of the Gainesville Pride festival will parade from the corner of Seventh Street and West University Avenue to the Bo Diddley Community Plaza, where dozens of local musicians and more than a hundred vendors will be stationed. Both events are free and kid friendly.

Since January, HIP has provided free HIV testing to about 300 people and has reached more than 1,000 community members in its outreach efforts. The project — which offers services in Alachua, Columbia, Lake, Marion and Putnam counties — is responsible for delivering more than 50,000 condoms throughout the community. The overarching goal of the project, which is funded by the Florida Department of Health, is to decrease the spread of the infection and link HIV-infected individuals to prevention and care services in their respective communities. While the project aims to raise awareness on all fronts, HIP’s priority population includes those with the greatest health disparities in our community and those most commonly affected by HIV/AIDS: ethnic minorities and MSM (men who have sex with men.)

Visit www.everyonestopaidsnow.org to see additional HIV testing locations as well as a list of local businesses that share prevention messages and materials with customers, helping reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

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