William D. King (Photo Courtesy of DKBMED Website

DKBmed, LLC a medical education company; HIV expert William D. King, MD; Tony Wafford of I Choose Life Foundation; and Tyrik Jackson, an award-winning barber, teacher, and social media influencer are coming together to fight HIV in the Los Angeles Black community with Fade Out HIV: Barber and Clinician Outreach.

Launching at BarberCon LA, Fade Out HIV will be featured at this day-long convention designed for barbers from Los Angeles and beyond to network and learn more about their trade. BarberCon is a leading resource of information for barbers, particularly those who work in communities of color.  The event will take place on November 14, 2021, at City Market Social House in Los Angeles, CA.

Tyrik Jackson, whose father died from AIDS, understands the importance of HIV education. “We’re coming together from all over the country to build a comprehensive educational program that encourages barbers to talk to their clients in the Black community about the urgent need for HIV testing, prevention, treatment, and care,” said Jackson.

Black/African Americans account for 13% of the US population yet they also account for 42% of new HIV diagnoses in the United States. Forty years into the HIV pandemic, Black/African American men are eight times more likely to have HIV than White men, and Black/African American women are seven times more likely to acquire HIV than White women. Black/African American men are also less likely to know their HIV status, putting their own health at risk and potentially transmitting HIV to others.

Fade Out HIV aims to address these disparities by educating Los Angeles County and other barbers attending BarberCon LA, who have a high percentage of Black patrons. Barbershops have always been an essential staple in the Black community; the Black barbershop is a safe space where the barber serves as not only a stylist, but also as a counselor. The long and trusted relationships between barbers and their clients makes barbers ideal partners for education and linking their clients to HIV testing and care.

“Giving African-American men the opportunity to address sensitive health issues with community members they trust – such as their barbers – is vitally important and when linked with trusted physicians, has been shown to improve health care outcomes.” said William D. King, MD, Founder of the W. King Health Care Group and an expert advisor and faculty member for Fade Out HIV. “There is well-documented mistrust of medical professionals in the Black community, so clinician education alone is insufficient to address this issue,” stated Oni Blackstock, MD, founder of Health Justice and a faculty member for Fade Out HIV.

Tony Wafford, Black Community Health Advocate (Photo Courtesy of DKBMED website

Barbers attending BarberCon will take part in several educational initiatives featured at a special VIP session, a main stage presentation, and a specially designed booth. The education will focus on HIV in the Black population and will cover topics including racial disparities of HIV and the importance of HIV testing, HIV prevention, and treatment. The education will also cover how barbers can discuss the sensitive subject of HIV with their clients. Following the BarberCon program, we will fan out in the community to provide individual education to local barbers along with patient education materials.

We see BarberCon LA as a unique opportunity to launch Fade Out HIV in the Black community. This is not just an episodic moment but an opportunity to create a major movement in the Black community to end the spread of HIV once and for all,” said Tony Wafford of I Choose Life Foundation

DKBmed has also created an educational program for clinicians in Los Angeles who work in the

Black community and for others across the country. This educational webcast will launch in

December 2021 and address issues including testing for HIV, using pre-exposure prophylaxis

(PrEP) to prevent HIV, and initiating treatment for people with HIV.  “We will place a special emphasis on educating Los Angeles area clinicians in order to provide a referral network for barbers,” said Dean Beals, President and CEO of DKBmed.  After completing the clinician education, Los Angeles area clinicians will be encouraged to join a referral network so that clients referred by barbers can find an educated and qualified clinician for testing, prevention, and/or treatment and care.

Barbers who attend the educational programs at Barbercon will be provided with a list of these clinicians so that they can more effectively connect their clients to clinicians who are prepared to discuss and address their specific health needs.

To incentivize the client to visit the clinician, clients who see their health care provider will be rewarded with a coupon for a future haircut.

More information for barbers can be found at Barbers.DKBmed.com.