HIV/AIDS Initiatives Targeting At-Risk Groups To Launch on National HIV Testing Day
Various HIV/AIDS initiatives targeting at-risk groups, including black U.S. residents, are scheduled to launch on National HIV Testing Day, which will be held on Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25). National HIV Testing Day is an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS, and it urges people to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing. According to CDC, about one million people in the U.S. are HIV-positive, and about one-fourth are unaware of their status. There are about 40,000 new HIV cases in the U.S. annually (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27/06). Blacks are 10 times more likely to become HIV-positive than whites in the country, according to CDC data. In addition, AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among black women ages 24 to 34, the Chronicle reports (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25). Some of the initiatives also will target people under age 25, who in 2005 accounted for 14% of new HIV diagnoses, according to a CDC analysis of data from 33 states, the Augusta Chronicle reports (Bostick, Augusta Chronicle, 6/26). Summaries of some of the initiatives appear below.
- The AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Monday provided HIV tests during a press conference on HIV/AIDS awareness in the black community at the Screen Actors Guild headquarters in Los Angeles. AHF also will provide rapid HIV testing and counseling throughout the week at various locations in the city (AHF release, 6/24).
- The Black AIDS Institute on Monday also administered HIV tests to celebrities -- including Jimmy Jean-Louis, Regina King, Hill Harper, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Vanessa Williams and Tatyana Ali -- at SAG headquarters. The event aimed to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and encourage routine testing in the black community (Schmelzer, PR Week, 6/25).
BET in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation on Monday announced that it will air special programming about HIV/AIDS throughout the week. The programs include "Reflections," the winning short film from the first Scenarios USA/Rap-It-Up National Story and Scriptwriting Contest. BET also will air an HIV/AIDS public service announcement campaign developed by the NBA, HBO, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
BET J, the sister network of BET, on Wednesday will air a special broadcast of its show, "My Two Cents," that will feature prominent black celebrities, advocates and critics. The panelists -- who include Marie Saint Cyr, executive director of the New York AIDS Coalition, and advocate Rae Lewis Thorton -- will discuss issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in the black community and the stigma associated with the disease. BET J also will air a short film series that examines HIV/AIDS issues in the black community (BET release, 6/25).
HHS on Tuesday hosted an Internet seminar to encourage web-based health writers to promote the testing day. Seminar presenters included John Agwunobi, assistant secretary for health; Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatits, STD and TB Prevention; Eileen Couture of Oak Forest Hospital in Illinois; and Jeremy Brown of George Washington University Medical Center. A video and transcript of the seminar are available online (HHS release, 6/26).
- The Magic Johnson Foundation will mark the day by offering HIV screenings at an event hosted in partnership with AHF, Charles R. Drew University, the Los Angeles Country Sexually Transmitted Disease Program and the Minority AIDS Project. The event, to be held in Los Angeles, will offer no-cost, confidential and rapid HIV tests (Magic Johnson Foundation release, 6/26).
Kaisernetwork.org's "Ask the Experts" on Tuesday addressed the state of HIV testing in the U.S. Panelists discussed the implementation of revised CDC recommendations for HIV testing, public education campaigns encouraging people to get tested, new data from the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors on individual state testing policies and more. Jill Braden Balderas, managing editor of kaisernetwork.org, moderated the discussion with Bernard Branson, associate director for laboratory diagnostics in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at CDC; Jennifer Kates, director of HIV policy and a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation; and Murray Penner, deputy executive director of domestic programs at NASTAD. The webcast is available online.
NPR's "News & Notes" on Tuesday included a discussion with actress Indigo and Alain Damiba, vice president of Global Program Operations for JHPIEGO, about National HIV Testing Day (Cox, "News & Notes," NPR, 6/26). Audio of the segment is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.