Houston: Few Gains for Blacks in HIV Rate
October 8, 2002
Blacks still have the highest percentage of all new HIV cases in Houston, three years after Mayor Lee Brown declared a state of emergency in the city's African-American community and created a task force to combat the problem. Though there has been a slight decrease -- from 61 percent to 58 percent -- of all new HIV cases that involve blacks, officials said Friday they are still alarmed by the numbers.
For the first time, the city has designated $100,000 from its general fund to prevent the spread of the disease, said Glenda Gardner, a bureau chief with the city's Health Department. The program, launched in 1999, has previously been funded by federal money. Since the state of emergency was declared, there have been 5,705 new HIV cases reported in Houston, according to the Health Department. Of those cases, 58 percent are African-American; 25 percent are Anglo; and 17 percent are Hispanic.
Councilperson Ada Edwards, who heads the Mayor's Task Force on HIV, said breaking down stigma and getting more funding from the city will make the task force more active and visible in the community. She advocates more testing and information outreach at nightclubs, movies and other places where young people hang out. She said this effort demands one-on-one intervention. The task force also is seeking more city funding.
"The mayor has pledged to help us find more money for the issue. It takes all of City Council to take a stand on this," Edwards said. The previous effort was led by former Councilperson Jew Don Boney, who spent several months gathering specialists and getting community input to determine the best way to tackle the problem. Said Boney: "There's politics around AIDS, primarily with funding. What seemed to be the primary issue was 'Why don't we put city general fund money into the effort?' But the reality of public policy and politics was it simply did not exist." Since 2000, the task force has been funded by a $300,000 annual grant from the CDC.
09.28.02; Kristen Mack
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.