Tampa Bay Religious Leaders Join Effort To Address HIV/AIDS Among the Black Community
The New York-based National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS -- which raises HIV/AIDS awareness in cities with high rates of the virus -- on Thursday established an affiliate in Tampa Bay, a "'badly needed'" effort, according to organizers, a St. Petersburg Times editorial states. According to the editorial, the "statistics are sobering" among blacks in Florida. The Florida Department of Health reports that blacks represent 15% of the adult population but make up 54% of AIDS cases and 45% of HIV cases reported in 2007.
The editorial notes that the Rev. W. James Favorite, pastor of Beulah Baptist Institutional Church, will chair the effort and "push for an increase in public funding for organizations that offer prevention, care and treatment services to people with AIDS." He also will "discuss an action plan and a legislative proposal that will be taken to" the state capital, according to the Times. Favorite said the church will use its influence and mobilize volunteers to encourage people to get tested.
The Times notes that through the initiative, Tampa joins a "large number of black churches ... responding in a coordinated effort to the reality that AIDS remains a public health crisis that devastates many black communities." The editorial adds, "The code of silence finally has been broken" (St. Petersburg Times, 3/26).