North Carolina: Officials Hoping to Educate Blacks About HIV/AIDS
February 25, 2005
A two-day Conference on African-American Culture and Experience held at University of North Carolina-Greensboro addressed HIV/AIDS myths and ways to educate blacks about health, safety, and disease awareness. Overcoming HIV/AIDS myths -- such as that the disease was created to destroy minorities, that condoms can be deliberately infected, or that men do not need to go to the doctor -- "gets very difficult, but you try to give them the information," said Monica Brown, HIV/STD coordinator for the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.
The conference, which ended Thursday, included a round-table HIV/AIDS forum and speech by Emory University's Jean Bonhomme.
Recruiting blacks to join more academic medical studies and adopt safe-sex procedures can be difficult because many blacks are still wary of federal health agencies, said health activists. "There's a history in the African-American community of suspicion with the government," said Michael Cauthen, a UNC African-American studies lecturer, citing the 1932-1972 Tuskegee Syphilis Study in which the federal government knowingly withheld treatment from blacks who were infected with syphilis.
The conservative religious upbringing of some blacks can also make AIDS and sex awareness issues difficult to broach, said Thelma Wright, director of the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition. "It's not a moral issue, it's a health issue," she said.
The conference focused especially on AIDS prevention in black communities and AIDS disparity between black and white North Carolinians. Blacks are 14 times more likely to die of AIDS than whites, according to a state health study released last year.
02.25.2005; M. Paul Jackson
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.