Newspapers Discuss HIV/AIDS Issues for Minorities
Several newspapers recently published articles related to HIV/AIDS issues for minorities. Summaries appear below.
Baltimore Times: The Times on Tuesday examined how with the Democratic control of Congress, "a new hope ran through the black HIV/AIDS community that government attention will be refocused" on containing the epidemic. HIV/AIDS-related causes have resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 blacks in the U.S., according to the Times. Phill Wilson, founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute, said, "One of the things we are excited about is that a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have been strong advocates for increased resources for fighting HIV and AIDS and comprehensive prevention, now presumably will be in leadership positions in the new Congress." In addition, the National Minority AIDS Council and Robert Fullilove of Columbia University wrote a five-point plan, titled "African Americans, Health Disparities and HIV/AIDS: Recommendations for Confronting the Epidemic in Black America." The plan recommends increasing affordable housing, offering voluntary HIV tests and counseling in prisons, funding studies of black men who have sex with men, boosting education about injection drug use and creating needle-exchange programs (Bullock, Baltimore Times, 11/28).
Long Island Newsday: Newsday on Wednesday examined a book, "Not in My Family: AIDS in the African-American Community," edited by Gil Robertson, president of the African-American Film Critics Association and brother of Jeffery Dwayne Robertson, an HIV/AIDS advocate. The book is a collection of personal essays, stories and poems written by 58 individuals who discuss how HIV/AIDS has affected black families. The book includes contributions from the Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, singer Patti LaBelle, author Randall Robinson, actors Hill Harper and Sheryl Lee Ralph, and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) (Taylor, Long Island Newsday, 11/28).
Los Angeles Times/Los Angeles Daily News: The Magic Johnson Foundation on Friday, Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, in Los Angeles will launch a nationwide campaign to educate and empower blacks about HIV/AIDS. The campaign, called "I Stand With Magic," has a preliminary goal of reducing by 50% the HIV infection rate among blacks by 2011. The Times also reports on increased calls by public health officials and community leaders in Los Angeles County for increased HIV testing and outreach to blacks and Latinos. According to Amy Rock Wohl, a researcher at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 72% of Latinos and 53% of blacks in the county learn they are HIV-positive less than one year before the virus has progressed to AIDS, compared with one in three whites who learn they are HIV-positive at such a late stage. Los Angeles County statistics also show that in 2004, Latinos accounted for nearly 50% of new AIDS cases (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 11/29). A San Mateo County study attributes the disparity in part to a common Latino belief that marriage and having children reduces risk of HIV. The study also found that Latino men who have sex with men believed they were not at risk because they did not identify themselves as gay, San Mateo County epidemiologist Gladys Balmas said (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 11/28).
- Providence Journal: The National Minority AIDS Council's recommendation that prison inmates receive voluntary HIV testing and condoms as an effort to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS cases in the black community has raised concern from Rhode Island prison officials, the Journal reports. More than half of new HIV cases are among blacks, according to CDC. In addition, the rate of AIDS in prison is 30% higher than in the general population, according to 2003 statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice. Rhode Island prisoners already receive voluntary HIV testing and counseling, but the state Department of Corrections says that providing condoms to inmates will encourage sexual activity, which is prohibited. Critics also are concerned with the cost of administering HIV tests, on which the department spent $654,000 last fiscal year -- 23% of its entire medication budget (Milkovits, Providence Journal, 11/29).