HIV/AIDS Advocates in Delaware Call for Federal Funding That Targets Poverty in Fight Against Disease
Although federal funding to support state organizations in Delaware in the fight against HIV/AIDS is helping to address the disease among blacks -- who make up 67% of the state's HIV-positive population -- some advocates say the prevalence of the disease among blacks would be closer to that of whites if more resources were used to target poverty, the Wilmington News Journal reports. The Rev. Christopher Bullock -- pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, a black congregation with an HIV/AIDS ministry -- said, "If you teach people who are impoverished how to get out of poverty, that gives them hope and that breaks the cycle of impoverishment," adding, "The money needs to be focused on poverty in Delaware." Bobby Dillard, an outreach worker for the substance abuse center Brandywine Counseling, said, "How you live determines how you care about yourself. Most people who have a decent job, invest in their homes, invest in the things that a job provides, they won't make the same risky decisions."
According to the News Journal, about $1.3 million in federal funding was used last year to support one dozen HIV/AIDS-related state organizations in Delaware, almost $300,000 more than in 2002. In addition, nearly 7,500 HIV tests were given to blacks last year, more than the amount given to all other racial groups combined. The News Journal also reports that the number of newly recorded HIV/AIDS cases among blacks in Delaware decreased from 226 in 2001 to 113 in 2007.
Renee Beaman of the Beautiful Gate Outreach Center at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church said that she has seen her organization's budget increase from $60,000 in 2002 to $169,000 in 2007 and that the center will be able to provide more HIV tests as its budget grows. Beaman said the black community also needs interconnected programs to address poverty. She added that some of the women she counsels would be more inclined to ask their partners to use condoms if they were not living in poverty. "If someone feels good about themselves, they'll be less likely to engage in risky behavior," Beaman said.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that discrimination against black men who have sex with men has contributed to the spread of HIV in the black community. "Whenever a group and a behavior is stigmatized and is accompanied by shame, there's not going to be an acknowledgement of what the risk is," Weinstein said. In addition, Bullock said that blacks must be willing to talk openly about the risk of HIV. "We need to urgently and aggressively educate our children about this disease with compassion," Bullock said, adding, "If we don't act now, the data will not change" (Ratnayake, Wilmington News Journal, 8/18).
CBS' "Evening News" on Sunday reported on the efforts of black churches in the South to talk openly about HIV/AIDS (Pinkston, "Evening News," CBS, 8/17).