Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials About AIDS Among African Americans
According to a CDC report presented last month at the 12th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, HIV prevalence among U.S. blacks ages 18 to 59 was 1.1% in 1991 and 2.14% in 2001. The group with the largest increase was black men ages 40 to 49, but among blacks ages 19 to 39, the researchers found no change in HIV prevalence between 1991 and 2001. HIV prevalence among whites remained stable at 0.2% during the same period. Researchers attributed the difference between blacks' and whites' HIV prevalence rates to socio-economic factors, such as poverty, illicit drug use and access to health care (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). To raise awareness of the disease, the 16th annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS -- which involves thousands of African-American churches throughout the United States, Africa and the Caribbean -- began on Saturday (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/7). Several newspapers have published editorials about HIV/AIDS among African Americans, some of which are summarized below.
Bergen Record: African-American community leaders need to "speak up" to "counter the public inattention" about the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African Americans, demand changes in public health policy and raise awareness about the risks of contracting HIV, a Record editorial says. Despite an "alarming statistic" about the HIV prevalence rate nearly doubling among African Americans, the "darkening face" of HIV/AIDS "has coincided with a rise in public apathy about the disease," the editorial says. There are some simple actions that could help reduce the spread of HIV in the African-American community, including HIV testing, drug treatment and increased efforts to curb HIV prevalence among injection drug users, the editorial says, concluding that the black community also needs "[m]ore awareness and more concern" (Bergen Record, 3/7).
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: The "relative silence" from black churches in the fight against HIV/AIDS is "disconcerting" because the "church is the bedrock of social activism in the black community," a Journal Gazette editorial says. Moreover, black ministers seem to be "following President Bush's lead when it comes to the pandemic" by promoting abstinence while "devalu[ing]" condom efficacy, the editorial says. However, church leaders "should not follow the president on AIDS" because the "growth of HIV and AIDS in the black community is a sign that churches should be about healing and education," according to the Journal Gazette. "Imagine what could be accomplished when the most powerful institutions in the black community face the HIV/AIDS problem every day of the year with the same vigor they did with civil rights," the editorial concludes (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 3/8).