Kings County Hospital hosted an educational day about Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and gave free screenings at the hospital to celebrate World AIDS Day on Dec. 2.
Health professionals commemorated the global day of awareness for the disease, inviting locals to get tested with HIV rapid tests, participate in giveaways, and learn from health professionals about the disease. Patients living with the virus also got to discuss their lives since their diagnosis, one patient who spoke said educating people about the virus is a goal of his.
“This event was a means for me to reach out and trying to make people aware that they need to take precautions in life,” said Odane Pryce, who discovered he was positive in May. “I also want people to know that having HIV is not the end of world — people say that a lot, but that’s not true.”
Pryce said that being gay added to the struggles in facing the hardships of the virus and said the miseducation many people have about it even ended his relationship with his grandmother and aunt.
“They put me out, didn’t want to eat from me or use the bathroom after me. If I slept on the bed they made me change the sheets every time,” he said. “I just went through it because I didn’t have anywhere to go and I didn’t know anyone else.”
Also of Jamaican descent, he said many people in the Caribbean community should teach themselves more about the disease, but instead encourage the stigma instead of becoming more knowledgeable, said Pryce. Lack of education about HIV is what drove his family to abandon him, but he praises Kings County Hospital for providing a space for him to learn more about his health and proactive health professionals.
“I met wonderful people there — the doctors, my nurse, my social worker — they always check on me,” he said. “That’s what Kings County does for me, so I came to help in return and I’m hoping to impact someone as well.”