The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is proud to partner with the Rutgers School of Public Health, Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) to host a free community forum, “HIV Prevention: U=U, PrEP and PEP-Knowing the Facts," on Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. at Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue in Cranford.  Registration is requested at ucnj.org/lgbtq.

Presented in collaboration with the Union County Office of LGBTQ Services, Union County College and UCC’s Gay Straight Alliance, CHIBPS has prepared this community forum to bring together educators, public health professionals, healthcare providers, and most importantly, community members, to discuss HIV prevention and HIV resources in their communities.

Rutgers School of Public Health Dean and Director of CHIBPS, Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, will provide the keynote address followed by an expert panel of speakers from the New Jersey Department of Health and Hyacinth AIDS Foundation.

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“HIV stigma is holding back the efforts of public health stakeholders to reach affected communities with prevention strategies and other resources,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “The Freeholder Board is proud to partner with Dr. Perry Halkitis and Rutgers School of Public Health to help overcome that obstacle. Learning the facts about HIV is an important step toward neutralizing fear and bias, and making our community one in which people are empowered to seek guidance without being stigmatized.”

The Prevention Access Campaign: U=U, simply known as U=U or Undetectable = Untransmittable, is a movement advanced by Bruce Reichman in an effort to use treatment of HIV as a means to its prevention. U=U is a ground breaking statement adopted by 700 community partners and 100 countries that recognized a groundswell of research that confirms that a person living with HIV, and who is on effective treatment that reduces the level of HIV to “undetectable,” protects their health and makes them incapable of passing HIV to their partner/s. Additionally, PrEP and PEP are valuable methods of protection against HIV. Both act as preventative and prophylactic measures to guard against becoming infected with HIV.

“Despite the advances of the last decade, only a fraction of Americans are accessing these powerful biomedical resources to either prevent or treat their HIV,” comments Dean Halkitis. “Community forums like this empower the community for and which we work to take control of their health and status with valuable resources and education.”

CHIBPS and the Union County Office of LGBTQ Services organized this event to galvanize the Union County, Newark and surrounding communities to learn about and access the U=U campaign and preventative and prophylactic therapies like PrEP and PEP to protect not only their health, but also their communities.

“According to the CDC, an estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States,” said Freeholder Alexander Mirabella. “This community forum is an opportunity for individuals living with HIV and family, friends and allies to get correct answers to their questions in an effort to destigmatize HIV.”

Registration is requested at ucnj.org/lgbtq for this free community forum organized by CHIBPS and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Office of LGBTQ Services in partnership with Union County College and the UCC Gay Straight Alliance.