African Americans Represent ‘Disproportionate’ Number of AIDS Cases in Kentucky
Although the number of AIDS cases in Kentucky is declining, African Americans in the state represent a "tremendously disproportionate" number of existing cases, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Statistics from the Kentucky Department of Public Health show that even though African Americans represent only 7.3% of the state's population, they accounted for 39% of the AIDS cases reported in Kentucky during the first half of 2001. Statewide, six times as many AIDS cases occur among African Americans as among whites. For example, between 1994 and 1999, the average rate of AIDS cases among African Americans in Kentucky was 33.8 per 100,000 people, compared to 5.3 cases per 100,000 people among whites and non-black minorities. However, the overall number of AIDS cases statewide has declined from 220 in 1999 to 189 in 2000. Gwen Cobb, HIV/AIDS prevention coordinator in the state public health department, said that Kentucky is looking to boost the number of its community outreach workers from 21 to 24 next year "if funds are available." Approximately six of the workers currently work with AIDS prevention among African Americans, but that number would increase to seven if the number of workers rises.
Conference Addresses HIV in African-American Community
HIV/AIDS in the African-American community was the focus of the 2001 Kentucky State African American Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS, which began on Sept. 7. The three-day conference addressed members of the clergy, health professionals and the general public on the issue of HIV/AIDS prevention and education. The conference emphasized the "importance" of HIV testing, and free HIV and syphilis screening was offered during a Patti LaBelle concert that took place in conjunction with the conference. Rick Dulin, a health education specialist for the Jefferson County health department, said that one of the "main components" of the conference was to encourage clergy members to learn how to work with HIV-positive individuals and "provide services that are so desperately needed" by people with HIV. Stephanie Benson, director of the Louisville-Jefferson County Minority AIDS Program of the Lincoln Foundation, said that she has seen "increased acceptance" by African-American clergy members, who have "begun opening church doors to HIV testing and encouraging acceptance from the pulpit" (Carter, Louisville Courier-Journal, 9/7).