Fifth Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Urges African Americans To ‘Get Tested, Get Educated, Get Involved’
Monday, Feb. 7, marks the fifth 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, 2/4). African Americans suffer the "vast majority" of deaths from AIDS-related causes, according to an HHS release (HHS release, 2/4). More than half of the new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 32 states between 2000 and 2003 were among African Americans, although African Americans represented only 13% of the populations of those states, according to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report. During the same period, 69% of women who tested HIV-positive were African American, and the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among African-American women is 18 times the rate among non-Hispanic white women. In addition, African-American men in 2003 had the highest rate of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses than any other racial/ethnic group, about seven times the rate among white men and twice the rate among African-American women, according to MMWR (MMWR, 2/4).
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 activities in their communities. Special events on the day include no-cost HIV testing, prayer breakfasts, town hall meetings and memorial services. Events are being 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. "Statistics show that African Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the epidemic's beginning," Dr. John Robertson, executive director of the National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council, said, adding, "If we increase the dialogue and get everyone involved, we will be able to galvanize our communities to take action and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS" (NBHAAD release, 1/20). Some of the events taking place around the country include:
- Alabama state House and Senate members on Thursday wore T-shirts handed out by the Legislative Black Caucus that said, "Got AIDS?" on the front, and "How do you know?" on the back to raise awareness of the epidemic in the state, particularly among African Americans (AP/al.com, 2/3).
- Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers (D) on Saturday in Omaha, Neb., is scheduled to headline a banquet, titled "The Gathering -- A Fellowship in Support of HIV/AIDS Activism," that will address the sexually transmitted disease epidemic affecting the African-American community in the state (Aksamit, Omaha World-Herald, 2/3).
- New Jersey officials on Wednesday announced that the state will begin a $2 million, yearlong advertising campaign that will "heavily" promote the use of rapid HIV tests, particularly among African-American women and Latinas (Groves, Bergen Record, 2/3).
- The Black AIDS Institute, BET and the Kaiser Family Foundation on Feb. 7 will launch the second annual Rap-It-Up/BASS Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition, a contest awarding $25,000 to African-American short film makers and aimed at increasing HIV/AIDS awareness within African-American communities. The 2005 competition also will be sponsored by YWCA USA. Scripts must be submitted by May 27. The winning film will be announced on Aug. 8 and will air on BET around World AIDS Day 2005 (Joint release, 2/3).
- The cable television network Showtime on Feb. 7 at 10 p.m. ET will air the documentary film, titled "Shouting Silent," which profiles South African Xoliswa Sithole, an adult orphan whose mother died of HIV/AIDS in 1996. The network is airing the film in support of the "KNOW HIV/AIDS" awareness campaign, which the Kaiser Family Foundation and Viacom first launched in January 2003. The film, which was co-directed by Sithole and Renee Rosen, received the Grand Jury Prize at the Washington, D.C., Independent Film Festival and second prize at the San Francisco Black Film Festival (Showtime Networks release, 2/3).