Fourth Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Urges African Americans To ‘Get Tested, Educated, Involved’
Saturday, Feb. 7, marks the fourth 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 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, 2/5). Although African Americans represent about 12% of the U.S. population, more than 50% of all HIV/AIDS cases in 2002 were among African Americans, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID release, 2/5). In addition, AIDS-related diseases were the leading cause of death among African Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 in 2002, according to CDC. The goal of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is to urge African Americans to "get educated, get tested and get involved" with HIV/AIDS in black communities. Special events on the day include: free HIV testing, prayer breakfasts, town hall meetings and memorial services. Events will be held in cities across the country, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. (NBHAAD release, 1/20). Some of the events taking place around the country include:
- Jacksonville, Fla.: The AIDS Welcome Center is offering free HIV counseling and testing beginning on Saturday. The event's goal is to decrease stigma surrounding the disease and provide a comfortable environment for testing (Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union, 2/4).
- Miami, Fla.: Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City will host a free concert, titled "Sing for Awareness," on Friday evening. The concert will promote participation in HIV/AIDS awareness activities, and free HIV testing will be provided (Miami Herald, 2/5).
- New Orleans, La.: Xavier University and Dillard University will offer free testing and counseling on Saturday. On Friday, Dillard will host a movie night, including films about HIV/AIDS. On Saturday, the school will host an HIV/AIDS Walk/Run (Faciane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2/5).
- Richmond, Va.: The Community Outreach Roundtable of Richmond will conduct a door-to-door campaign on Friday in the Gilpin Court and Mosby Court communities to educate residents on HIV/AIDS (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/4).
In a statement recognizing the day, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that although more minorities participate in AIDS-related clinical trials today than during the beginning of the epidemic, "we need to increase our enrollment of individuals from minority groups in clinical trials." In both prevention and treatment trials, minorities represent just over 30% of all participants. However, more than 65% of all new HIV/AIDS cases in the United States occur among minorities, according to Fauci. "To put it simply, if we are to end the HIV pandemic in African Americans, African Americans must continue to be part of the solution, as clinicians, prevention providers, treatment advocates, researchers and as HIV therapeutic and preventive vaccine clinical trial volunteers." Fauci added, "To those who already are involved in the struggle to end the AIDS pandemic: Be proud of yourselves, and share information about what you are doing with others. Strong role models are an important source for education and hope" (NIAID release, 2/5).
Rowing for AIDS Awareness
Victor Mooney, a communications officer at the College of Advanced Technology in Brooklyn, N.Y., plans next year to row across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Mooney, who has rowed the waters around New York for years, said that after losing loved ones to AIDS, he is looking to raise awareness and money for the fight against the disease. "I believe AIDS is 100% preventable, and anything we can do to get that message out will help," he said. Mooney is scheduled to begin his journey on Feb. 5, 2005, at Goree Island off of the coast of Senegal and travel 8,000 miles to Brazil, then through the Caribbean and along the eastern coast of the United States to New York City. Mooney chose the route to pay homage to African slaves who were forced to make the journey to the Americas, the AP/Newsday reports. The trip to Senegal is expected to take two to three months, and the remainder of the trip will likely take five more months. Mooney estimates that the trip will cost $200,000, with all money raised above the cost to be donated to charities around the world, according to AP/Newsday (Pitman, AP/Long Island Newsday, 2/6).