By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF) and the Oklahoma HIV and AIDS Advocacy Coalition will host “HIV/AIDS Awareness Day” from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 10, at the Oklahoma State Capitol fourth floor rotunda.
Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about legislation that OACF is monitoring this session that could impact those affected by HIV and AIDS in Oklahoma.
During the event, HIV community agencies and supporting nonprofits will have tables with information and resources. Keynote speakers Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie; Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City; and Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, will address participants at 8:30 a.m. in Room 412A.
In addition, OACF will provide a brief training on how to discuss HIV/AIDS related issues with your state legislators.
Participants are encouraged to make appointments in advance to visit with their representatives the day of the event. Legislators in each district can be found here.
HB 1538, authored by Rep. Virgin, failed to pass out of the Oklahoma House this session, which would have updated the HIV and AIDS prevention education in Oklahoma’s public schools.
According to Cher Golding, executive director of Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, the curriculum hasn’t been updated since 1987.
“In the past three decades, much has been learned about the disease and many advancements have been made,” said Golding. “To be truly be effective, this curriculum must be updated.”
Golding added, “With the comments surrounding the bill and its failure to pass, it shows the importance of updating this curriculum as well as educating our lawmakers and the public about HIV/AIDS in our state.”
Here is a list of the active bills OACF is following:
SB 246, by Sen. Anastasia Pittman, relates to HIV prevention education. It would modify the type of prevention education taught in public schools and would remove certain limitations. The types of available resources would be modified and inspection of curriculum and materials would be required.
HB 2273, by Rep. Terry O’Donnell. permits the procurement of organs and tissues for donation purposes from persons testing positive for HIV infection, provided the procurement and donation are consistent with the federal HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act and the regulations promulgated by the Organ Procurements and Transplantation Network and the United State Food and Drug Administration.
SB 752, by Sen. Greg Treat, relates to organ donation and procurement; amending 63 O.S. 2011, Section 2151.1, which relates to certain restrictions; permitting procurement of certain specimens under certain circumstances; clarifying language; and providing an effective date.
The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund is a fundraising and advocacy organization dedicated to providing financial support and resources to HIV/AIDS service providers in Oklahoma.
Since its founding in 1991, OACF has awarded more than $12.5 million to reduce new infections, stigma, and health disparities while increasing access to care and collaboration of services.
“HIV/AIDS Awareness Day brings together consumers, advocates and member organizations from around the state for a common cause and serves as an opportunity to develop relationships with lawmakers,” said Golding. “Together we can voice our concerns and bring awareness to the treatment, prevention and supportive services for HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma.”
OACF and the coalition encourages the public to attend. Registration is available under the “events” tab of the OACF Facebook page. To attend the keynote address, host an exhibit table or to help raise awareness about this disease with Oklahoma legislators, call Larry Milner at 405-348-6600.
For more information, visit okaidscarefund.com.