South Carolina African American HIV/AIDS Council To Use Ford Foundation Grant To Address Stigma
The South Carolina African American HIV/AIDS Council has received one of four Ford Foundation grants to fight the spread of HIV by reducing the stigma associated with the disease, the Columbia State reports (Lamb, Columbia State, 2/23). African Americans accounted for about 72% of HIV/AIDS cases in South Carolina at the end of 2003, with 27% of the cases among whites, according to the State (Columbia State, 2/23). Black women are the fastest growing group of HIV-positive people in the state, Letitia Johnson-Arnold, project coordinator for the council, said, adding that African-American women in South Carolina often contract HIV from male partners who also have sex with men, according to the State. The council plans to use the $180,000 grant to conduct community meetings in five regions of the state. The meetings will include discussions about HIV/AIDS and free HIV testing. In addition, the council plans to present in each region a play about AIDS, titled "To Touch God's Hands," and organize a media campaign to reinforce prevention and testing messages. Margaret Anderson, deputy director of the Academy for Educational Development, which announced the grants, said that the council was selected because of its history in using "creative ways" to tackle HIV/AIDS-related stigma, the State reports. Lynda Kettinger, director of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's STD/HIV Program, praised the initiative, saying that rural Southern communities traditionally offer less support than metropolitan areas for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the State. "Many people would rather go without services than face the chance of someone finding out they are HIV-positive," Kettinger said, adding, "But if they wait ... they will have missed an important opportunity to get on [antiretroviral] drugs, may have missed support services and may have missed getting into a clinical trial" (Lamb, Columbia State, 2/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.