Black Elected Officials Say Federal Government Should Do More to Combat HIV/AIDS in Their Communities
African-American elected officials "overwhelmingly" expressed a "strong sense of urgency about the spread of the AIDS epidemic in their communities" in a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The survey, the "first to gauge the attitudes and opinions of a cross-section of national and local black elected officials (BEOs)," included 550 BEOs in 12 states and jurisdictions that have been "hard hit" by HIV. Officials surveyed indicated that black communities have "benefited less from advances made in the fight against the epidemic than the nation as a whole." In addition, 87% said HIV/AIDS is a "serious national problem" and 82% agreed that "it is an even more urgent problem locally than it was a few years ago," while 56% said it was a "bigger problem" for blacks than whites. More than half of BEOs (56%) felt that the federal government is "doing very little to address the epidemic" in the African-American community, and 80% said that the federal government spends "too little" on HIV/AIDS. The survey indicated that BEOs support a range of strategies, including more "controversial" ones, to address the epidemic in their communities, such as
needle-exchange programs, mandatory names-based reporting and "making it a crime for HIV-positive persons to knowingly have unsafe sex." Drew Altman, president and CEO of KFF, said, "Despite the progress so far, AIDS continues to have a deep and disproportionate impact on the African-American community. Black elected officials feel this impact and believe that the government at all levels needs to do more to address the urgent need" (KFF/Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies release, 5/31). To view the survey results online, click here.
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