National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS President Discusses Ministers’ Plan To Prioritize HIV/AIDS as Public Health Issue for Blacks
NPR's "News & Notes" on Wednesday included a discussion with Debra Fraser-Howze, president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, about a plan announced earlier this month by ministers at a NBLCA conference to address HIV/AIDS among blacks (Chideya, "News & Notes," NPR, 10/24).
At the conference, ministers from across the nation called on the government to declare HIV/AIDS among blacks a public health emergency and proposed legislation to address the disease within the community. Ministers also committed to collaborate with the Congressional Black Caucus on a proposed bill, titled the National HIV/AIDS Elimination Act, they hope to introduce in Congress by January. The legislation calls on President Bush to declare HIV/AIDS among blacks a public health emergency, which would trigger money and resources to fight the disease, Fraser-Howze said. According to CDC estimates from 2005, blacks made up about 13% of the U.S. population and accounted for 49% of new AIDS diagnoses (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 10/19).
Fraser-Howze said that the black church historically has led the community in confronting issues that affect blacks and that such leadership will play a critical role in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She said some critics "have always blasted the black church for not doing enough in AIDS," but "when you actually do a take on what's going on in the black church, ... many of them are doing something," such as hosting AIDS programs and prayer weeks.
Fraser-Howze said the goal of the plan announced at the conference is to "bring the ministry back to its original and formal position, which is a position of advocacy." The ministers also will lobby presidential candidates to address HIV/AIDS and support candidates who make the issue a priority, she said ("News & Notes," NPR, 10/24).
Audio of the segment is available online.