PHILADELPHIA, October 29, 2010 – Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Phila/Montgomery), his spouse, activist and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and local advocates launched the next phase of the “Test Together” public awareness campaign today.

The campaign, which utilizes targeted community outreach, the internet, mass media, billboard and public transit advertising, is designed to encourage couples, friends and family members to take the test for HIV/AIDS.

“It is absolutely critical that the community recognizes the devastation of HIV/AIDS and the importance of being tested for the disease,” Hughes said. “This disease has severely impacted the world since it was first documented more than 25 years ago, and has disproportionately impacted black communities.”

Hughes said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that African Americans in 2008 accounted for 52 percent of new HIV diagnoses and 48 percent of AIDS diagnoses.

Speaking at the early morning press conference which took place at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) in West Philadelphia, Hughes’ wife Sheryl Lee Ralph said emphatically, “This is a disease that is completely preventable. There is no reason that people should avoid knowing their status and getting help should they need it.”

David Acosta, Coordinator, City of Philadelphia HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs, Tony Daniels, Community Health Recruitment Coordinator, Mazzoni Center and Dr. Matthew Schure, President and Chief Executive Officer, PCOM also participated in the event and urged the community to protect against and educate itself about the disease.

The Mazzoni Center, one of several participating partner organizations, also was on hand to administer free rapid HIV testing to the public and provide resources and referral information immediately following the event. For more information about the campaign visit or call 1.800.CDC.INFO.

On Sunday, October 31, the couple also will take their “Test Together” message to six area churches.

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