Kansas City Health Department Launches Campaign to Address Racial Disparities in AIDS
The Kansas City Health Department on Thursday began a two-year campaign to increase awareness of AIDS in African-American and Hispanic communities, the Kansas City Star reports. In June 1999, the department declared a public health emergency to increase AIDS awareness among minority communities, leading to a decrease in the number of HIV infections for both whites and blacks. However, the Star reports that the decline was much slower among African Americans. Although they only account for 16% of the population in Kansas City and the surrounding Missouri counties, African Americans account for 25% of the reported AIDS cases and 36% of reported HIV infections in the area. The incidence of HIV/AIDS among Hispanics is also higher than that for white people in the area, the Star reports. Stephanie Griffith, the department's AIDS prevention program manager, said that the "sirens must be turned on." The department's campaign will increase its outreach and prevention efforts by channeling federal money to such community organizations as the African-American AIDS Project, the Guadalupe Center, the Native American Health Coalition, the Good Samaritan Project and the Kansas City Free Health Clinic. The department will also offer a series of special events over the next two years to reach groups within minority communities, such as "a free seminar for African-American men on stress, sexuality and the black man's place in history," and a prayer breakfast for African-American women. Health Department Director Rex Archer said, "We still have a considerable (racial) disparity in the infection rate. There is no reason we can't eradicate it" (Bavley, Kansas City Star, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.