Rev. Jesse Jackson Calls on Prison Inmates in St. Louis To Undergo HIV Testing
Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the not-for-profit organization Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, on Friday in St. Louis called on inmates at a medium-security prison to voluntarily undergo HIV testing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Jackson, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (D), St. Louis Health Department Commissioner Melba Moore and several area clergy members and elected officials were tested for HIV first on Friday to demonstrate their commitment to fighting the disease and their willingness to undergo testing. About 200 inmates then voluntarily lined up to undergo HIV testing, according to the Post-Dispatch. The event, which was sponsored by the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Community Wellness Project, the African-American AIDS Coalition and Alderman Greg Carter, was organized because HIV/AIDS prevalence among prisoners is five times higher than the prevalence among the general population. Jackson said, "The jails and prisons are the epicenter of the continuous growth of AIDS and HIV. The most difficult part is to overcome the stigma and fear associated with taking the test." He added that although HIV/AIDS affects all people, he is aiming his efforts at African Americans because the disease has "reached epidemic proportions" in that population, according to the Post-Dispatch. "The number one killer of African-American men ages 25 to 44 is not drive-by shootings. It's not police profiling. It's HIV/AIDS," Jackson said (Harris, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.