National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Highlights ‘Vast Disparities’ Among African Americans and Other Races
Today marks the second annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national consciousness-raising effort sponsored by the Community Capacity Building Coalition, a conglomerate of national minority-focused groups supported by the CDC through the Congressional Black Caucus. Several major cities across the United States will hold lectures, discussions, health forums and other events today to raise awareness about the disease in the African-American community and to urge legislators to press for additional funding for minority-focused HIV/AIDS efforts (Office of Minority Health Web site, 2/7). CCBC -- whose members include the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Concerned Black Men, the National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council, Health Watch Information and Promotion Service and Jackson State University -- organized the day to highlight the "vast disparities" that exist between African Americans and other races with regard to HIV/AIDS. AIDS is the leading cause of death among African Americans between the ages of 25 and 44, and it could become the number one cause of death among all African Americans "within a generation" if further "substantive, proactive" prevention efforts are not taken, according to the CDC. Concerned Black Men's Project Health Initiatives for Minorities (Project HIM) has set up a Web site that explains the reasons for the awareness day and gives tips on how to organize events (Project HIM Web site, 2/7). A summary of some events scheduled around the nation follows:
- Atlanta, Ga.: City officials, as well as representatives from AID Atlanta and the National AIDS Education Services for Minorities, will hold a news conference today at 10 a.m. in the City Hall Atrium (Associated Press, 2/6).
- Baton Rouge, La.: The Friends for Life AIDS Resource Center will sponsor free HIV testing and counseling today from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at its facility and at several other locations throughout the city. The group, along with Southern University, will also sponsor a candlelight vigil tonight at 5:30 p.m. on the university's campus (Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate, 2/3).
- Chattanooga, Tenn.: The AIDS Outreach unit of the Chattanooga-Hamilton Health Department, the Chattanooga Council on AIDS Resources and local church leaders will sponsor a variety of events today in the city to raise HIV/AIDS awareness (Park, Chattanooga Times & Free Press, 2/5).
- Daytona Beach, Fla.: The Outreach Community Care Network of Daytona Beach today will sponsor an HIV/AIDS educational outreach program to raise awareness about prevention strategies (McCann, Orlando Sentinel, 2/6).
- Detroit, Mich.: Confidential, anonymous HIV testing and counseling will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Sinai-Grace Hospital, and a candlelight vigil will be held tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Second Baptist Church ( Detroit Free Press, 2/5).
- Dallas, Texas: Local AIDS activists will hold a community forum today from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center (Adams-Wade, Dallas Morning News, 1/30).
- Kansas City, Mo.: The Kansas City Health Department will offer free HIV tests today at three sites throughout the city (Kansas City Star, 2/6).
- Las Vegas, Nev.: Clark County health department officials today will sponsor free oral HIV tests at locations throughout the county (Richmond, Las Vegas Sun, 1/23).
- Los Angeles, Calif.: AIDS Project Los Angeles today will sponsor a "human billboard" consisting of more than 400 local youth carrying signs about HIV on Crenshaw Blvd. APLA will also hold a candlelight vigil tonight in Leimert Park (APLA release, 2/1).
- Memphis, Tenn.: Community leaders in Memphis have sponsored a week of HIV/AIDS-related events, including church services and poetry readings. Today, free HIV testing and counseling will be offered on the campus of LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically black school (Powers, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/2). The Memphis Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Committee, the Memphis chapter of the NAACP and the State of Tennessee Minority Initiatives Project will also sponsor events (Perkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/1).
- New York, N.Y.: Activist Maria Davis will hold a program on HIV/AIDS today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the National Black Theater in Harlem (McCallister, New York Daily News, 2/3).
- East Orange/Orange, N.J.: Free, confidential HIV testing will be offered today from 9 a.m. until noon at the cities' health departments (Newark Star-Ledger, 2/3).
- Washington, D.C.: A candlelight vigil will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Howard University (Agence France-Presse, 2/6).