HIV specialist: Disease prevalent here; BOE member wants satellite office to remain
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
While the local community continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, another disease — once classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic but now considered a “global epidemic” — continues to prey on local citizens.
“Let me tell you, Atmore is full of it, believe it or not,” Rhonda McCorvey, an HIV specialist with Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) told Atmore City Council members during the council’s Monday, May 24, meeting. “I know that’s a shocker. Most people think HIV is gone, but it’s not.”
McCorvey works with the MAO clinic in Atmore, as well as the clinics in Butler, Covington and Conecuh counties.
“If there’s a clinic in your area, that means there’s a problem,” she said, pointing out that the number of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cases are also on the rise in the four-county area she works, and beyond.
The HIV specialist asked for and received permission to use the Farmers Market area adjacent to city hall for an HIV testing program. The medical event is set for Thursday, June 24, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
McCorvey also shot down what she said still remains the biggest misconceptions about HIV.
“I want to clear the air, HIV is not a ‘gay’ disease,” she said. “You don’t have to be gay to get it. You can get it from unprotected sex with anybody.”
In the only other business conducted by the council, Loumeek White, who represents District 5 on the Escambia County Board of Education, encouraged Mayor Jim Staff and the council to work with the BOE in an effort to maintain the Atmore central office.
“I recommend that we don’t move the BOE building,” White said. “I know right now we only have two or three people working in the building (adjacent to the former YMCA building), but I’ve talked with (School Superintendent John Knott), and we’re going to fill those positions.”
White stressed the need to have a permanent base where local school issues could be worked out without those involved having to travel to Brewton, where the BOE’s headquarters is located.
“It’s y’all who have to make that decision; we can’t,” Staff replied. “Right now, (the BOE) has it on hold. “
That prompted District 2 council member Jerome Webster to ask: “Who’s got it on hold? The school board?”
“Yep,” Staff replied. “We can’t move forward until they tell us something. We’ve gone as far as we can go.”
District 3’s Eunice Johnson thanked all those who participated in the city’s first food distribution event, which was held last week.