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Illustration by NHM

Illustration by NHM

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. That’s why Mazzoni Center has parked its Mobile Testing Units outside three stations along SEPTA’s Broad Street line until tonight. Members of the center’s Prevention and Outreach team are now offering free, rapid HIV testing and counseling at the  Olney station (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.), the Erie station (12:30 until 3:30 p.m.), and the Girard station (4 to 7 p.m.).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. In 2009, African Americans comprised 14 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections. Young African-American gay and bisexual men are especially at risk as these numbers increase in 2013.

“One of the biggest challenges we face here in Philadelphia is the high number of individuals who are HIV positive but unaware of their status,” says Mazzoni Center Prevention Services Director Eric Paulukonis. “Our goal with the February 7 event is to reach as many people as we can by taking the message of testing, and the opportunity to get tested, directly to the areas where people live, work, and travel every day. If we can encourage more people to get tested and know their status, we can not only improve their individual health outcomes, but we can have an impact on overall transmission rates that will benefit entire communities.”

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