Third Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Urges African Americans, Others To Be Tested
Today marks the third annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is sponsored by the Community Capacity Building Coalition, a consortium of national minority-focused groups supported by the CDC through the National Minority AIDS Initiative. The CCBC includes: Concerned Black Men, the Health Watch Information and Promotion Service, the Jackson State University-Mississippi Urban Research Center, the National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Web site, 2/6). Although African Americans comprise only 13% of the U.S. population, they account for 52% of the people diagnosed with HIV, and roughly one in 50 African-American men and one in 160 African-American women are HIV-positive. The goal of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is to urge African Americans and other people to be tested for HIV, increase education efforts and awareness of the disease, and increase HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. HIV/AIDS groups around the nation will hold educational and outreach programs, including free HIV testing, town meetings and youth rallies (NBHAAD release, 1/27). A summary of some of the day's events appears below:
- Atlanta, Ga.: Free HIV testing will be provided from noon until 4 p.m. at AID Atlanta and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta. In addition, there will be a health fair from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Douglass High School (Wahlberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/4).
- Charlotte, N.C.: An HIV/AIDS awareness spoken-word contest, syphilis and HIV testing and counseling and other events will take place from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte at St. Luke's Lutheran Church (Charlotte Observer, 2/2).
- Detroit, Mich.: A free breakfast and awareness event from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., a panel discussion on HIV prevention from noon until 2 p.m. and a candlelight vigil and gospel concert at 7 p.m. will be held at the High Praise Cathedral of Faith (Bodipo-Memba, Detroit Free Press, 2/6).
- Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: A seminar entitled "Stigma and Discrimination" including speakers from local community agencies, the Broward County health department and members of the clergy will be presented at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (LaMendola, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, 2/7).
- Lexington, Ky.: Free and anonymous HIV testing will be available from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fayette County Health Department. The Black and Williams Center will provide testing, among other activities, from noon to 2 p.m.. Antioch Baptist Church will have gospel singing and a keynote address by Annette Brooks, who is HIV-positive, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Davis, Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/4).
- Miami, Fla.: Local HIV/AIDS agencies from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. will provide free oral HIV tests, information on STDs and prevention information at Charles Hadley Park (Londono, Miami Herald, 2/6). A forum headed by the Miami-Dade health department and community leaders will take place at the Joseph Caleb Center today (LaMendola, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 2/7).
- New Orleans, La.: A free citywide health fair, including free HIV testing and testing for other STDs, will be held from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Canal Street offices of Brotherhood, Inc. (Faciane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1/30).
- Oklahoma City, Okla.: The Oklahoma Health Department will provide free HIV testing and individual counseling from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Holy Temple Baptist Church (Daily Oklahoman, 2/4).
- Omaha, Neb.: Free HIV testing will be available from 9 a.m. until noon, with same-day results provided between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., at the Nebraska AIDS Project, and free testing will also be available from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Charles Drew Health Center, with same-day results available two hours after testing (Grace, Omaha World-Herald, 2/1).
- Palm Beach, Fla.: Free HIV testing, family events, an information fair and a motorcycle ride will take place on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Gaines Park (LaMendola, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 2/7).
- Pontiac, Mich.: An information display and free HIV testing and counseling sponsored by a partnership of community groups and the Oakland County Health Division will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pontiac City Hall (Bodipo-Memba, Detroit Free Press, 2/7).
- Rochester, N.Y.: A prayer vigil will take place at 10 a.m. at the Liberty Pole (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 2/7).
- Syracuse, N.Y.: A program sponsored by AIDS Community Resources including free and confidential HIV testing, voter registration, panel discussions and other activities will take place from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Southwest Community Center (Perez, Syracuse Post Standard, 2/6).
- Trenton, N.J.: Free HIV testing, sponsored by the New Jersey Human Development Corp. and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Marriott Lafayette Yard Conference Hotel (Newark Star-Ledger, 2/6).
- Volusia County, Fla.: Outreach Community Care Network will offer free HIV testing and counseling from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Dickerson Center; from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Daytona Beach Community College Student Center; from 9 a.m. until noon at the Outreach Community Care Network office; and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the House Next Door. In addition, Revs. Michael Mitchell and Ernest Sheffield will offer testing and counseling from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Shiloh Baptist Church (Orlando Sentinel, 2/5).
U.S. Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), who will serve as honorary chair of this year's awareness day, said, "We are in a fight for our lives. It will take the commitment of each and every one of us as well as sustained action to win it" (USA Today, 2/5). She added, "Although we've known about it for two decades, HIV/AIDS continues to move through our African-American communities as a silent killer, infecting now and wreaking havoc later on mothers, fathers, children and whole communities. Because of the denial and shame still associated with HIV/AIDS, there is still the need for education, testing, prevention, treatment and advocacy for more dollars to fight this dread disease" (Congressional Black Caucus release, 2/5). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "We can and must make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We can do it together by supporting ... the 'armies of compassion.' ... Each of us can make a difference by devoting personal effort and time to defeating AIDS forever" (HHS release, 2/7). Mark Isaac, vice president of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, called National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day "an important day for our country in the fight against AIDS" and urged pregnant women "in particular" to be tested, as women who find out they are HIV-positive can take medications to help prevent HIV transmission to their infants and to help delay progression of the disease (EGPAF release, 2/6). In addition, Doug Banks of the nationally syndicated radio program the "Doug Banks Show," said, "This is an important health issue in the African-American community and our community has been hard hit" (NBHAAD release, 2/7). Laila Ali, super middle-weight boxer and daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, will also support the event for the third consecutive year (NBHAAD release, 2/7).
- Merlene Davis, Lexington Herald-Leader: Considering the number of African Americans living with HIV/AIDS, "[s]omething is not working" with prevention messages -- "[s]omebody is somehow not getting the word," Herald-Leader columnist Davis writes. She says that in order to combat the problem, "[w]e've got to start talking about this killer not only at doctor's offices, but in pulpits, beauty and barbershops, bars and restaurants, club meetings and while gossiping on the phone or playing bid whist, dominoes or checkers." Davis concludes, "We can't continue to bury our heads in the sand about this. ... We have to talk to our children, and we have to talk to our peers. We as a people have successfully outmaneuvered tribal wars, droughts, slavery and Jim Crow laws. ... And for what? Just to invite death to ourselves or our family members through denial and ignorance? Please. Get tested" (Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/4).
- John Domzalski, Philadelphia Inquirer: Today's theme, "Get educated, get tested, get involved," is "appropriate" because "[e]ducation about HIV risk, testing and medical and community resources is important," Domzalski, commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, writes in an opinion piece, adding, "[P]articularly for communities of color." He states, "The networks of faith-based communities across [Philadelphia] ... provide HIV prevention and care messages, services and referrals that save ... lives," concluding, "But we still need to do more" (Domzalski, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/7).
- Fannie Flono, Charlotte Observer: "African Americans should take note of the Uganda model" of HIV/AIDS prevention, which uses the "ABC" approach -- abstain, be faithful, or use a condom, Flono, an Observer associate editor, writes, adding that with the country's "massive" education campaign, "the prevalence of HIV/AIDS [in Uganda] fell from a national average of 30% in 1992 to about 6% today." Flono states, "As in Uganda, health officials say tackling this scourge effectively in African American communities will require comprehensive efforts of the public and private sectors, residents, public officials, health workders, businesses and religious communities." She concludes, "The theme for today is 'Choose Life.' Ugandans already have. We need to be smart and heed their lesson" (Flono, Charlotte Observer, 2/7).
- Pearlethia White, Philadelphia Inquirer: White writes about how she contracted HIV and how she "wanted to kill myself rather than suffer," after she found out she was HIV-positive. "I feel like I've been cursed," White says, adding, however, that she is "getting help" through services from Blacks Helping Blacks About Sexual Health Issues, which offers support groups and other services. White concludes, "For me, it's one day at a time from here on" (White, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/7).