Respect yourself, Check yourself, Protect Yourself
By: Jonathan Batson, Student National Medical Association Committee Member
This past year marks the 30th anniversary of the HIV/AIDS global pandemic. Though many have been lost during the pre-HIV drug treatment years, through community activism, policy change and research, HIV prevalence rates seem to be leveling off. Though this may be true in general in the United States, a struggle within the African American community of the silent killer still hampers even with our progress today. The alarming statistics of the marginalization of the disease in black America, and particularly its localization in south Florida, with respect to the majority populous, is what caused Donovan Thomas to create a plan of action. Thomas’ plan bore the RCP Movement. RCP stands for Respect yourself, Check yourself, Protect yourself . The RCP Movement is truly a leader in the efforts to decrease the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the local communities. “We are a group for the people by the people” states Thomas. The movement is unique in having youths volunteer to spread the word of HIV prevention. Another interesting fact about the RCP Movement is that every few weeks they go to medically underserved areas in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to do a “street scare.” This is a tactic used to educate the community to let them know the statistics of prevalence in the African American communities, but also to promote awareness of the fact that HIV has no face. Wearing white shirts which state “I HAVE HIV” on the front creates an atmosphere where many feel scared and threatened; however, in the back it states “IF ONLY IT WAS JUST THAT EASY TO TELL. GET TESTED.” This quickly makes the audience question how you can one tell if someone is HIV positive. The answer is that nobody can by just looking, but getting tested. “We put a face to a statement but in essence, nobody can really know and that is why the best thing to do if sexually active is to protect yourself with condom use, and also to check yourself by getting tested regularly” says Thomas. This is a great campaign with grassroot support from the community. Not only do they promote safe sex practice for those that are sexually active, but they help reduce the HIV stigma to strengthen the vulnerable populations as well. There are many determinants that factor into HIV transmission such as sociological, psychological and biological differences in the context of the minority population; however, with the role played by the RCP Movement, they hope to become the bridge that gaps the disparities associated with HIV through advocacy and promotion of HIV education. HIV in essence does not discriminate in who it can affect. In order to meet the challenges of the future for eradicating or decreasing the rates of HIV within the black community, we need to promote and advocate with groups like RCP Movement for they are actually doing something within the community to make a difference. Let’s all be the change we aspire to see in the world.
For more information about The RCP Movement, log on to www.rcpmovement.org.
Filed Under: AIDS Awareness
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