The Naked Truth about HIV/AIDS: Twitterview with NAACP Health Dir. Shavon Arline

NAACP Health Director Shavon Arline

June 27 marked National HIV Testing Day, and health advocates nationwide encouraged all Americans to get tested for the HIV virus. In the spirit of the day, we sat down with NAACP Health Director Shavon Arline to answer your questions about HIV & AIDS, and discuss the NAACP's HIV prevention efforts and how you can get involved.

@NAACP: Ok, tweeps - time to answer your HIV/AIDS related questions with #NAACP Health Director @shavonarline. Thanks to all who submitted!

Why do you think the rates of HIV/AIDS amongst African Americans are so high?

Lack of education, lack of access to quality health care, poverty and stigma associated with sex in Black America.

What are some ways to end the stigma around HIV/AIDS in the African American community?

@shavonarline: Open dialogue in our homes, churches, workplaces and the broader community. HIV is only taboo if we allow it to be. Dont be ashamed to TALK!

@NAACP: Next question via @trennie- Are the number of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. increasing faster, or has the percentage of new cases decreased?

@shavonarline: Rates in the Black community are rising in youth, Black MSM (men having sex with men), Black women & seniors. 1/2 of new infections are Black Americans.

@NAACP: How often should a person get tested?

@shavonarline: Get tested annually during an annual physical. If you have a new partner, then you both should be tested before engaging in sex.

@NAACP: What is the #NAACP doing to educate the African American community about HIV/AIDS?

@shavonarline: Prevention education and screening through our local units, HIV grants to our chapters and 10 city faith tour! Working with Faith Leaders! Just to note the NAACP will be releasing a national HIV & social justice manual for faith and community leaders. Coming soon!

@NAACP: What can I do to help? (regarding HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention)

@shavonarline: Get tested & know your status ( Do NOT have unprotected sex unless you are monogamous. Empower someone and spread the word. Also, stop the stigma! People are afraid because they have been shunned. If you are positive, get medical care. Lastly, you can be an advocate. Fight for prevention and screening resources for underserved communities! Your voice counts. We are partners with AAALI, Gilead Sciences, Rubin Foundation and the Off. of Minority Health! It takes a village to address this issue

@NAACP: Thanks again @shavonarline - anything else to add?

@shavonarline: For those in Los Angeles, join us at the JW Marriott on July 23-28 to see Black Surgeon Generals and receive HIV Awareness info! We'll also have an HIV commemorative luncheon, fitness with Donna Richardson (@DonnaRJoyner), and two workshops (Get H.Y.P.E. and health reform). Thanks NAACP family and followers! Appreciate this opportunity..

@NAACP: Well that about wraps it up for our chat with @shavonarline...big thanks to Shavon & all who participated & spread the word! If you have other questions about HIV/AIDS or our health initiatives in general, tweet our Health Director Shavon at @shavonarline.