Orlando Black Women Need a ‘Frank Discussion’ on HIV/AIDS, Community Activist SaysOrlando Sentinel columnist Darryl Owens on Saturday featured the work of HIV/AIDS community activist Alisa Brown. Brown, a prevention program manager at the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, is the organizer of a five-week discussion session on HIV/AIDS awareness, called the Sisters Informing Sisters on Topics about AIDS program.
Brown had been talking about HIV/AIDS in churches but "wasn't convinced the watered-down message she delivered ... was reaching the masses" and thus developed the program.
According to Brown, it is time for a "frank" discussion "among black women about HIV/AIDS in African-American communities of Central Florida," Owens writes.
Owens says that in Orange County, Fla., one in 90 blacks has HIV/AIDS, compared with one in 284 whites. In Seminole County, one in 148 blacks has HIV/AIDS, compared with one in 990 whites. In Volusia County, one in 104 blacks has HIV/AIDS, compared with one in 729 whites.
Owens notes that Brown has said the "numbers would not be that high" if more churches promoted the use of condoms and discussed how HIV is transmitted, instead of focusing on abstinence. "We're talking about Christian people so I understand about abstinence, but the fact of the matter is, that is not happening," Brown added.
Brown said, "A lot of times ... black women don't take care of (themselves) with health because we're not proud of who we are. That plays a big part" in black women's HIV/AIDS infection rates "because you're talking about personal values and risky behavior." She added that the SISTA program teaches women "that if your man is running around, it's OK to say 'no.'"
According to Owens, Brown encourages personal responsibility, better judgment and making HIV testing a routine part of women's health exams. Brown said Orlando residents "have to get together as a community to solve this problem. We can't keep pretending it's not happening" (Owens, Orlando Sentinel, 3/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.