Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fraternity Promotes Awareness

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which is the oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization of collegiate men, is setting an excellent example in February by participating in National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). NBHAAD is a national mobilization effort designed to encourage African-Americans to get educated, get tested, get treated, and get involved with the fight against HIV/AIDS, as it continues to devastate black communities.

“Our work is to make sure that we die on time, not before time,” said Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., the newly installed general (national) president of Alpha.

In addition to encouraging every fraternity member to get tested, they encourage every member of the community to be tested. Mason said it was important given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that blacks represent 49 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases reported each year. African-Americans infected with HIV/AIDS also face other disadvantages; shorter survival times and more HIV/AIDS related deaths than other ethnic groups.

“Historically, Alpha Phi Alpha has always played a major role in health issues concerning the African-American community,” said Mason. “Now we’re asking every member of Alpha Phi Alpha to get tested for HIV/AIDS. If every Alpha man gets tested, we’ll be able to definitively say that hundreds of thousands of African-American men now know their HIV status.’”

What stands out about the action planned by Alpha Phi Alpha is that groups, fraternities and sororities, can encourage members to be tested every year. In addition to raising awareness, group efforts can provide support for individual members who may otherwise never seek testing.

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