HIV/AIDS Commission To Call on Obama To Address Disease Among Blacks in U.S.
The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS plans to call on President Obama to develop a national strategy to address the HIV/AIDS among blacks in the U.S., the AP/Yahoo! Canada News reports. The organization's head, Virginia Fields, will discuss the state of HIV/AIDS in the black community on Thursday in New York City. According to the AP/Yahoo! Canada News, Fields will examine HIV/AIDS education, treatment, resources and other issues during her speech. The commission coordinates volunteer efforts among business leaders, religious leaders, elected officials and policy experts. The AP/Yahoo! Canada News reports that Obama has said that he aims to launch a strategy to address HIV/AIDS-related health disparities.
Fields' speech comes ahead of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is scheduled for Feb. 7 (AP/Yahoo! Canada News, 2/4). The awareness day has the theme of "Black Life is Worth Saving," and organizers aim to raise awareness about the disease and promote testing, treatment and community involvement among blacks (South West Review, 2/4). According to CDC, blacks comprise 12% of the U.S. population but account for almost half of new HIV infections and almost half of all people living with the virus in the U.S. "To turn the tide, we all must continue to confront the realities of this disease in African-American communities," Kevin Fenton -- director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention -- said, adding, "While race itself does not increase risk, high prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in black communities means African-Americans face a greater risk of HIV infection with each sexual encounter than other groups. Stark realities of some African-Americans' lives -- including poverty and limited access to health care -- increase the likelihood of HIV infection. Stigma and homophobia also contribute to keeping HIV alive in black communities" (CDC release, 1/30).