Oregon, Texas HIV/AIDS, STI Awareness Efforts Focus on Black Youth
The following summarizes recent newspaper coverage of efforts in Texas and Oregon to increase HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections awareness among black youth.
- Houston, Texas: State Rep. Borris Miles (D), in an effort to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among black youth in the Houston area, is organizing a hip-hop concert that offers no-cost admission to those ages 15 to 30 who get tested for HIV, the Houston Chronicle reports. Nationally, blacks account for about 60% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among those ages 13 to 24, according to the Chronicle. In Houston and Harris County, where blacks make up 18% of the population, blacks have accounted for 54% of adult HIV cases since 1999, the Chronicle reports. Clinics across the Houston area will begin offering no-cost HIV tests. After getting the test results, individuals will receive an admission ticket for the concert, which will be held in June. Those testing positive will receive counseling and referrals for treatment. The goal is to test between 3,000 and 6,000 young adults. Local radio stations will publicize the effort by playing live and prerecorded public service announcements. Kelly McCann, CEO of AIDS Foundation Houston, said, "This is the first time that anything of this scope, this size, has been attempted that I'm aware of" (Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle, 4/26).
- Multnomah County, Ore.: The Multnomah County Health Department on Wednesday held a discussion with black youth in the community and urged them to take responsibility of their sexual health, the Oregonian reports. According to the Oregonian, blacks in Multnomah County ages 15 to 24 have nearly six times the rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea than whites in the same age group. In addition, blacks account for nearly 9% of HIV/AIDS cases in Portland and less than 2% of the area's population. Tricia Tillman, head of the STI disparity project for the county health department, said poverty, poor access to care and the high rate of black men in prison are behind the higher rates. Discussion participants cited peer pressure, "hypersexual media images" and the reluctance of adults to talk openly about sex as some of the top sexual health issues among young blacks, the Oregonian reports. The teens recommended the availability of "realistic sex education" in addition to abstinence, information on contraception and sexual decision-making, campaigns against media outlets that portray negative images of black women and classes to teach parents how to discuss sexual health. Tillman said, "We haven't talked about sex, and it doesn't serve us. It just lets this continue to get worse" (Hannah-Jones, Oregonian, 4/27).