North Carolina Group Dispenses Goods to Cut AIDS Risk
April 13, 2004
Each month around Siler City, Adolfo Aguilar distributes some 4,000 condoms in grocery stores, factories, chicken-processing plants, pawnshops and pool halls where Spanish speakers are. To help combat AIDS in nine southern states, drug maker Pfizer Inc. is spending $3 million, and over the next three years will give $150,000 to the nonprofit Chatham Social Health Council (CSHC) where Aguilar works.
While Hispanics and blacks each comprise 13 percent of the nation's population, together they accounted for 70 percent of new AIDS cases in 2002. "Not only are they the ones disproportionately affected, but they're also the hardest to reach," said Holly Baddour, executive director of CSHC, which employs three people and had a $76,000 budget last year. Many of Chatham County's new Hispanic arrivals settle in Siler City where they work for money to send back home.
At one Hispanic-run store, the owner prominently displays a jar of condoms next to the cash register. His is one of seven stores that Aguilar helps to stock.
Money to fight HIV/AIDS has not kept pace with the epidemic in the South, said Dr. Robert Janssen, CDC director of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Organizations established during the earlier years of the epidemic in the West and Northeast still receive the most financial help, he said.
Linda Ferguson, CSHC's outreach worker in the black community -- which comprises 17 percent of Chatham County -- spends her days cruising around in her minivan, recruiting ministers, barbers and beauticians to her cause. She approaches sexuality issues slowly, occasionally attending a church three weeks before introducing herself and her purpose.
Religion and culture in both black and Hispanic communities condition people to not speak about sexual issues, said Ferguson. That means AIDS, still considered a gay disease, is talked about little. She and Aguilar say they want to empower as they educate, giving people they reach the confidence to demand safe sex or no sex.
04.11.04; William Holmes
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.