NPR’s ‘Tavis Smiley Show’ Interviews Black AIDS Advocates About National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Feb. 7
NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show" on Monday included an interview with Erylene Piper-Mandy, executive director of the Center for Cross Cultural Competence, and Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute, in anticipation of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7. According to Smiley, health and human service agencies nationwide this week are participating in activities related to HIV/AIDS awareness as part of a "count down" to Saturday. In 2002, blacks accounted for 13% of the U.S. population but 42% of HIV diagnoses, according to NPR. In addition, black U.S. residents are nine times more likely to be HIV-positive than white U.S. residents, NPR reports. According to Wilson, HIV/AIDS is "still a difficult thing for black folks to talk about" and discussion of the issue "consistently is framed by other folks." Wilson said, "Unless and until we develop the infrastructure and capacity to talk about AIDS in a way that resonates with us, we're not going to solve this problem. And that is one of the reasons why National Black AIDS Awareness Day is so important -- it's about black folks talking about an issue that is killing us in a language that we understand." Piper-Mandy agreed that "African people have to begin to look at solutions for HIV/AIDS themselves." Wilson and Piper-Mandy also discussed the debate between allocating resources to research and development into HIV/AIDS treatments and vaccines versus spending funding on HIV/AIDS education, prevention and testing, as well as whether there is a "systematic lack of attention" to black health issues. Wilson also discussed the Rap-It-Up/BASS Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition, a contest awarding $25,000 to black short film makers aimed at increasing HIV/AIDS awareness within black communities and sponsored by BAI, BET and the Kaiser Family Foundation (Smiley, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 2/2).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.