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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Feb 7
  On Friday, Feb. 7, AIDS activists will conduct educational and outreach programs including free HIV testing to mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. "We are in the fight for our lives," says US Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen of the Virgin Islands, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. For more information, visit www.blackaidsday.org. (US News & World Report)
HIV/AIDS Among African Americans
In the United States, the impact of HIV and AIDS in the African American community has been devastating. Through December 2000, CDC had received reports of 774,467 AIDS cases - of those, 292,522 cases occurred among African Americans. Representing only an estimated 12% of the total U.S. population, African Americans make up almost 38% of all AIDS cases reported in this country. Of persons infected with HIV, it is estimated that almost 129,000 African Americans were living with AIDS at the end of 1999.
In 2000, more African Americans were reported with AIDS than any other racial/ethnic group.
19,890 cases were reported among African Americans, representing nearly half (47%) of the 42,156 AIDS cases reported that year.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of all women reported with AIDS were African American.
African American children also represented almost two-thirds (65%) of all reported pediatric AIDS cases.
The 2000 rate of reported AIDS cases among African Americans was 58.1 per 100,000 population, more than 2 times the rate for Hispanics and 8 times the rate for whites.
Data on HIV and AIDS diagnoses in 25 states with integrated reporting systems show the increased impact of the epidemic on the African American community in the last few years. In these states, during the period from January 1996 through June 1999, African Americans represented a high proportion (50%) of all AIDS diagnoses, but an even greater proportion (57%) of all HIV diagnoses. And among young people (ages 13 to 24), 65% of the HIV diagnoses were among African Americans.
Prevention Efforts Must Focus on High-Risk Behaviors
Adult/Adolescent Men. Among African American men reported with AIDS, men who have sex with men (MSM) represent the largest proportion (37%) of reported cases since the epidemic began. The second most common exposure category for African American men is injection drug use (34%), and heterosexual exposure accounts for 8% of cumulative cases.
Adult/Adolescent Women. Among African American women reported with AIDS, injection drug use has accounted for 41% of all AIDS case reports since the epidemic began, with 38% due to heterosexual contact. Interrelated Prevention Challenges in African American Communities
Looking at select seroprevalence studies among high-risk populations gives an even clearer picture of why the epidemic continues to spread in communities of color. The data suggest that three interrelated issues play a role -- the continued health disparities between economic classes, the challenges related to controlling substance abuse, and the intersection of substance abuse with the epidemic of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Substance abuse is fueling the sexual spread of HIV in the United States, especially in minority communities with high rates of STDs. Studies of HIV prevalence among patients in drug treatment centers and STD clinics find the rates of HIV infection among African Americans to be significantly higher than those among whites. Sharing needles and trading sex for drugs are two ways that substance abuse can lead to HIV and other STD transmission, putting sex partners and children of drug users at risk as well. Comprehensive programs for drug users must provide the information, skills, and support necessary to reduce both injection-related and sexual risks. At the same time, HIV prevention and treatment, substance abuse prevention, and sexually transmitted disease treatment and prevention services must be better integrated to take advantage of the multiple opportunities for intervention.
Prevention efforts must be improved and sustained for young gay men. In a sample of young men who have sex with men (ages 15-22) in seven urban areas, researchers found that, overall, 7% were infected with HIV (range, 2%-12%). A significantly higher percentage of African American MSM (14%) than white MSM (3%) were infected.
It is clear that the public sector alone cannot successfully combat HIV and AIDS in the African American community. Overcoming the current barriers to HIV prevention and treatment requires that local leaders acknowledge the severity of the continuing epidemic among African Americans and play an even greater role in combating HIV/AIDS in their own communities. Additionally, HIV prevention strategies known to be effective (both behavioral and biomedical) must be available and accessible for all populations at risk. "Program to Address Black People, HIV"
Detroit Free Press (02.06.03)::Alejandro Bodipo-Memba
On Friday, hundreds of individuals and a coalition of Detroit HIV/AIDS service providers will celebrate the Second Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at High Praise Cathedral of Faith, 8809 Schoolcraft in Detroit.
A breakfast and awareness program from 9 to 11 a.m., a panel discussion on prevention from noon to 2 p.m. and a 7 p.m. gospel concert and candlelight vigil will be held at the church. Participants can get literature on preventing HIV/AIDS and learn about testing. All events are free and open to the public.
Similar events are planned in other large cities on Friday, including Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, and Baltimore. "In our community, what we don't know tends to scare us and we don't want to talk about it," said 39- year-old, Detroiter Ronald Doe, the Midwest program assistant for African-American Men United Against AIDS. "There is a sense of denial that this kind of thing doesn't happen to our community. But we need to open our eyes and look at what is really going on around us."
The Detroit area has the 10th-highest incidence of HIV/AIDS infection in the nation, according to CDC. The Michigan Department of Community Health's Communicable Disease and Immunization Division estimates that about 1 in 50 black men in the metro area is HIV-infected. More than 90 percent of the estimated 7,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Detroit are African American.
"When we first learned about HIV/AIDS, it was regarded as a gay disease having a white face," said Schawne Parker, executive director of Community Health Outreach Workers, a Detroit-based advocacy group for African Americans. "Today, one need only look at the continent of Africa to see that that face is changing."
"Day at Park to Try to Build Awareness of AIDS; Official Say Disease an Epidemic Among Blacks"
Miami Herald (02.06.03): Ernesto Londono
Outreach workers and health care providers will gather Friday at Charles Hadley Park, 1300 NW 50th St. in Miami, from 2 to 7 p.m. to observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Determined to retard the spread of HIV/AIDS in Miami-Dade County, local HIV/AIDS agencies will conduct free HIV oral tests, distribute literature about STDs, and educate the public about the prevalence of HIV in predominantly black Miami neighborhoods.
"A lot of African Americans in Miami-Dade County don't realize that we're in the middle of an epidemic," said Whitney Houston, a program evaluator at MOVERS Inc., an HIV/AIDS prevention and case management agency for blacks in South Florida. Houston will chair the Miami chapter of Awareness Day.
A December 2002 Florida Department of Health report stated that blacks account for 51 percent of all reported HIV-positive cases in the United States, and Florida blacks make up 56 percent of the state's HIV-positive population, although they represent only 18 percent of the general population. Miami-Dade County Department of Health cumulative figures released in June 2002 showed blacks accounting for 54 percent of reported HIV cases.
Outreach workers face challenges in the black community because of stigma attached to the virus and testing, including the widespread belief that only gay men or substance abusers get AIDS. "If someone sees you taking an HIV test, they assume something must be wrong with you," said Houston. MOVERS tests 200-250 people for HIV a month. Half do not return for their results; of those who do, about 5 percent are positive.
Houston added that it has been difficult to enlist black religious leaders into the fight against the epidemic. "Until the black church mobilizes the community," she said, "we're going to stagger." Touchy as the subject may be, she said, religious leaders and parents need to begin the dialogue. "Bottom line," she noted, "it's the only way to avoid becoming another unnecessary statistic."
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