Bono, Rep. Lee, Church Leaders Meet in Oakland To Discuss HIV/AIDS Awareness in Black Community
Irish musician and international HIV/AIDS advocate Bono on Friday met with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and local church leaders in Oakland, Calif., to discuss HIV/AIDS awareness among the California Bay Area black community, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "We're at the epicenter here in East Oakland of a new rise of the AIDS epidemic in the United States," Bono said, adding, "But I'd also say we're also at the epicenter of the resistance to that epidemic." Bono also called on political leaders and the public to fight the spread of HIV in the black community. According to Lee, there is a need to "break the silence" around HIV/AIDS, especially when considering the high numbers of cases of the disease among blacks (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3). According to the Alameda County Department of Public Health 2005 AIDS Epidemiology Report, 44% of the more than 6,800 AIDS cases in the county from 1980 to 2005 were among black residents. Lee said that Bono, who has advocated to raise millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment in developing nations, will be able to "shine a spotlight" on how the disease affects the black community (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/2). She said, "This visit provides an opportunity for an international AIDS activist to learn about what the epidemic looks like here in the United States and what we are doing to fight it," adding that she invited Bono to Oakland so he could "get a first-hand sense of what the epidemic looks like in the African-American community." Lee said that "our work in Oakland is going to need to be informed by our work in Africa, and vice versa" (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 3/2). Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums (D) said that the large number of HIV-positive men being released from prison is a major problem. "That can be traced back to the fact that we are sending men back into the community as bullets because they don't know their status," Dellums said, adding, "Men are coming back HIV-positive." Bono, Dellums and Lee also said that black churches should play a larger role in providing HIV/AIDS education to the community. Pastor J. Alfred Smith said clergy members at the meeting pledged to "break the silence" that black churches have kept about HIV/AIDS. "The church is very important," Bono said, adding, "In Africa, the church was at the forefront of educating the public. It's hard for the church to talk about sexuality, but it's critical" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.