Black AIDS Institute Executive Director Discusses HIV Prevalence Among Blacks at Town Hall Meeting
"When nearly half of the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS are black, AIDS in America today is a black disease," Phil Wilson, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute, said last week at a town hall meeting at Meharry Medical College, Tennessean columnist Dwight Lewis writes. The town hall meeting was part of a two-day event, "Bringing Ethics to Life in Human Subjects Research: A Case Approach," sponsored by Meharry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and FDA.
According to Wilson, "Black people make up 12% of the nation's population, but they represent 54% of the new HIV/AIDS cases in America." He added, "Sixty-seven percent of the new HIV/AIDS [cases] among American women are black, 42% of the new cases among men are black, and nearly 70% of the new cases among American youth [ages 13 to 21] are black."
He said young people are "being infected because they're sexually active," adding, "No one is taking the time to provide the tools and information they need to protect themselves." Wilson called for every "black institution, from the faith to the educational to businesses to medical institutions to entertainment to fraternal to civil rights" and "anybody who presumably cares about black people" to talk about HIV/AIDS. He said there is a "whole generation of young people who don't know a world without AIDS, and we're the ones who need to do whatever we can to help eliminate this disease" (Lewis, Tennessean, 9/30).
A report from the Black AIDS Institute on the state of HIV/AIDS in the black community is available online (.pdf).
NPR's "Tell Me More" on Monday included an excerpt of a panel discussion from the event that was moderated by "Tell Me More" host Michel Martin. Panelists included Pamela-Stefanie Brown, director of the NAACP College & Youth Division; Justin Smith, a Congressional Black Caucus project coordinator; Kurt Thomas, an HIV/AIDS advocate; Quentin James, president of the South Carolina NAACP College & Youth Division; and Hill Harper, an HIV/AIDS activist and actor. The segment also has comments from Wilson and Rodney McCoy, a counselor at the Whitman-Walker Clinic (Martin, "Tell Me More," NPR, 10/1).
Audio of the segment and an expanded broadcast of the panel discussion are available online.