Obama Administration HIV/AIDS Effort Targets Blacks
George E. Curry | 4/15/2009, 4:57 p.m.
The second phase, set to begin this summer, will focus on African-Americans. To assist many cash-strapped
organizations, the CDC is providing many groups $100,000 to hire an AIDS coordinator, thus insuring the issue will gain higher visibility in each organization. In addition to the NNPA, the partner groups are: 100 Black Men of America, American Urban Radio Networks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, National Action Network, NAACP, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, National Council of Negro Women, National Medical Association, National Organization of Black County Officials, National Urban League, Phi Beta Sigma and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
€Reducing the disproportionate toll of HIV in Black communities is one of CDC€s top domestic HIV prevention priorities, and African-American leaders have long played an essential role in this fight,€ Dr. Fenton said. €This new initiative will further harness the collective strength of some of the nation€s leading African-American organizations to reach directly into the communities they serve with critical, life-saving information.€
Fenton credited Phill Wilson, president of the Black AIDS Institute, and C. Virginia Fields, president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, with helping the CDC to craft a broad community-based approach to curbing HIV.
Ironically, the decision to expand communications efforts comes at a time when the public seems less knowledgeable about AIDS. Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said his organization recently conducted a major public opinion survey that produced some troubling findings.
€We found that the percentage of the American people who say they have seen, heard or read a lot about HIV/AIDS in the U.S. has fallen from 34 percent five years ago to just 14 percent today,€ he said. €The percentage for African-Americans reporting this has fallen from 62 percent to just 33 percent.€
Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, spoke on behalf of the 14 partner organizations.
€If we€re going to deal with this great disease, which really is preventable in our communities, in our lives, it will take all of us, all of our organizations, our elected officials, our government agencies like CDC, our businesses, our churches, our labor groups and our universities,€ Height said.
€By taking the steps we can to protect ourselves and loved ones, and by refusing to remain silent, today, we are here to say that we have a sense of how we must work together to overcome this disease.€