OAKLAND -- Local organizations gathered outside of City Hall on Friday to celebrate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and give free screenings.
Organizations and local businesses including Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases, or WORLD, attended the rally and health fair to help promote awareness of HIV and the risks involved.
"The whole theme behind this rally is spreading knowledge and taking action," said Bethan Lamb, the policy and advocacy assistant at WORLD who coordinated the event. "The epidemic of HIV is alive and strong for women in the area; even if the numbers aren't as high as men, they are growing and in a state of emergency."
Representatives from the HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County, or HEPPAC, set up three trailers for people ages 14-29 to get HIV screenings, which were 20-minute oral antibody tests.
Asia Gillam, 21, came to the rally with her mother to get her free screening.
"I like to make sure I'm clean because you never know nowadays," she said. "You can't live your life nonchalant and think it's OK to not know what you're doing with your body."
Those who participated in the free screening also received a free ticket to a hip-hop concert featuring headliner E-40 on Sunday at the Fox Theater. The concert is part of a hip-hop testing initiative for urban youth. The only way to get entrance into the concert is to get a ticket after participating in an HIV screening test.
"We want to get the urban community, especially in hip-hop, to be aware of testing," said Braunz Courtney, the HIV testing manager for HEPPAC. "They need to know about their resources."
More than 1,900 people have been screened at clubs, churches, Art Murmur and a Raiders game.
The official National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Sunday.