Los Angeles Panel of Black Leaders Discusses How to Prevent HIV, Fight Stigma in Black Community
December 6, 2004
A panel of black leaders in Los Angeles at an event organized by the African American Community Development Initiative and the L.A. County Department of Health Services' Office of AIDS Programs and Policy on Saturday urged greater "sexual responsibility" and "instilling a sense of pride and dignity" among blacks to fight HIV/AIDS and eliminate the stigma attached to the disease, the Los Angeles Times reports. Blacks represent about 12% of the nation's population but 54% of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the country, according to CDC. The panelists, who included religious leaders, social advocates, social workers and health officials, said the discrepancy was due in part to "social and spiritual shortcomings," according to the Times. "This is not just about the disease," said Diane Weathers, editor of ESSENCE magazine, adding, "It's about self-esteem, poverty, ignorance and fear." The panelists agreed that HIV/AIDS and sex need to be topics of discussion in churches, which they said "ignored the problem" in the past, according to the Times. Some panelists also said the black community needs to be more accepting of the black gay community, HIV testing should be more strongly encouraged and women should refuse unprotected intercourse with their partners.
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