By Thomeya Jackson
Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS) held a free event last weekend that brought together women of all ages. The event gave information and tools to help them make informed decisions about their sexual health.
SOS was founded in 2008 to educate black women about HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
“This HIV/AIDS prevention is a good thing and we have to work on it consistently and all the time,” said guest speaker Brenda Jarmon, founder and president of Sowing Seeds of Faith Inc.
The foundation of this group was built around five key objectives, including, educating black women about HIV and AIDS; and how other STDs, hepatitis and substance abuse increase their risk, according to the organization’s website. The group also empowers black women to take control of their sexual health.
The day was filled with guest speakers including Jarmon, Kamaria Laffrey, the founder of emPOEWRed Legacies, and National HIV Prevention Consultant Leisha McKinley-Beach.
Women spoke about their stories and struggles, and how they survived and overcame, encouraging other women and girls at the event to be comfortable with speaking about their trials as well. The occasion celebrated women living with HIV and those helping to combat the virus and stop the spread.
Free HIV testing was available during the event, as well as contraceptives and information about treatment and prevention.
Health care providers such as Florida Health and Planned Parenthood and other organizations attended the event and provided information to women and girls about living a healthy lifestyle.
During the event attendees celebrated the life of Ronald Henderson, the founder of SOS. The foundation of SOS began as Sistas Organizing to Survive: Statewide Mobilization Conference for Florida’s Black Women in June 2008.
Henderson contributed to many campaigns and developments that led to HIV treatment and prevention in many minority communities across Florida.
As of 2018 there were 2,280 people living with HIV in Tallahassee. Black women accounted for 515 of those persons living with HIV in the Big Bend area.
“In 2016 4,560 black women were diagnosed with HIV representing 61% of HIV diagnoses among all women in the United States of that year,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sistas Organizing to Survive Chairwoman and Minority HIV/AIDS Coordinator for Leon County Florida Department of Health Kiara Dale-Adenola has been empowering women even before taking on her positions.
“Although you may not be infected with HIV, we are all affected by HIV,” said Dale-Adenola, which she says is one of her favorite quotes.