CDC, Clark Atlanta University Hold HIV/AIDS Awareness Forum; CDC May Sponsor Other Events at Black Colleges
Hundreds of students at historically black Clark Atlanta University on Tuesday attended the school's first "major" HIV/AIDS awareness program, which was sponsored by CDC, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The forum comes one month after North Carolina health officials reported an outbreak of HIV among young black males in the state (Wahlberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/17). North Carolina public health officials at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in February presented the findings of a study that showed an HIV outbreak among black male college students. Researchers found six HIV cases among male college students ages 18 to 30 in 2000, 19 cases in 2001, 29 in 2002 and 30 in 2003. Of the 84 total new cases during that period, 73, or 88%, were among black men, and 11, or 13%, were among white men (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/11). Health officials say that the data found in North Carolina likely is occurring in Georgia and "throughout the South," according to the Journal-Constitution. Speaking at the forum, former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, who is now director of the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine, said that homophobia is "fueling the epidemic among blacks," the Journal-Constitution reports. He said that treating gay people as outcasts and lowering their self-esteem "is a perfect setup for irresponsible behavior." He added, "We need to face up to the fact that there is diversity in sexual orientation." Students participating in the forum said that they usually do not "hear much discussion" about HIV or homosexuality on campus, but added that they "welcomed the attention to the issue," according to the Journal-Constitution. CDC said it may sponsor similar events at other historically black schools, according to the Journal-Constitution (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.