Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials, Opinion Piece on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Monday 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. African Americans suffer the vast majority of deaths from AIDS-related causes, and 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. 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/4). Several newspapers have published editorials and opinion pieces concerning National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Summaries of some of these appear below.
Detroit Free Press: The United States "should not need" a National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day because of the "alarming and deadly" statistics for HIV/AIDS among African Americans, but "indifference and denial" have made the event "crucial," according to a Free Press editorial. Although Detroit is "blessed" with "dedicated and effective" HIV/AIDS advocates and organizations, leadership has been "lacking" from the city's "influential churches" and "shamefully absent" from its political officials, the editorial says. "With education and prevention, the spread of [HIV] can be stopped but only if leaders make awareness of the disease a year-round campaign," the Free Press concludes (Detroit Free Press, 2/7).
St. Petersburg Times: The "staggering" statistics concerning HIV/AIDS among African Americans means that education, treatment and testing among African Americans and other minorities are "key" to curbing the spread of the disease, according to a Times editorial. Funding for needle-exchange programs also should be increased, the cost of antiretroviral treatment should be reduced and African-American women need to receive counseling on how to "insist on safe sex," the editorial says (St. Petersburg Times, 2/7).
- Hazel Dean, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Poverty, a lack of health care and social inequality "no doubt play a role" in the "disturbing" statistics about HIV/AIDS and African Americans, Dean, associate director for health disparities at CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, writes in a Journal-Constitution opinion piece. According to CDC research, there are some "key" factors that put many African Americans at an increased risk of HIV infection, including a "failure" among African-American women to discuss health and sexual history with male sexual partners; the stigma surrounding men who have sex with men in the African-American community; and a high rate of other sexually transmitted diseases that can facilitate HIV transmission, according to Dean. "Frank talk about HIV among African Americans needs to start at the top -- with leaders of government, African-American community organizations and black churches and mosques," Dean writes, concluding, "It also needs to happen between parents and children, husbands and wives, among family members and friends, and in schools and at work" (Dean, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/7).