Health Officials, Churches in Nevada Team Up to Encourage HIV Testing Among African Americans
Health officials from Clark County, Nev., and the Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Las Vegas are teaming up to urge African Americans to be tested for HIV during National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7, the Las Vegas Sun reports. On that day, the Clark County Health District will offer free oral HIV tests at several locations, including the church. "We need to do more in educating everyone to the risks. Getting more people in for testing is a big part of dealing with the problem," Inez Staten, an HIV counselor with the health district, said. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects blacks in the Las Vegas area; although blacks represent 9% of Clark County's population, they account for 23% of AIDS cases and 26% of HIV infections in the county. According to the Sun, black men in Nevada were infected with HIV at a rate of 74 cases per 100,000 in 2000, compared with a rate among white men of 23 per 100,000. Black women in the state were infected with HIV at a rate of 29 cases per 100,000 the same year, compared to fewer than three cases per 100,000 white women. Irene Battle of the women's group Sista to Sista said that inadequate education about the risks of intravenous drug use and unprotected sex play a "significant role" in spreading HIV among minorities. Rev. Robert Fowler, pastor of Victory Missionary Baptist Church, said that black churches can help stem the spread of HIV by encouraging abstinence and safe sex and by urging their parishioners to get tested for HIV (Richmond, Las Vegas Sun, 1/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.