North Carolina: HIV/AIDS Task Force Sought
September 5, 2003
Following months of discussions about the growing number of HIV/AIDS cases in Mecklenburg County, N.C., commissioners directed County Manager Harry Jones to appoint an HIV/AIDS task force, but it remains to be seen how comprehensive that group's recommendation will be.
Most commissioners and members of the public who talked about the issue at Wednesday's board meeting expressed the need to explore all the culturally sensitive, measurable, innovative and legal options available to stem the deadly disease. These measures would likely include increasing community awareness of high-risk behaviors and providing HIV/AIDS patients better access to health care.
Those measures are fine, Republican Commissioner Bill James said, so long as abstinence is preached. "If you didn't share needles and didn't have promiscuous sex, you wouldn't have AIDS," said James. "I for the life of me don't understand why folks get so upset when I say that the main transmission of AIDS is promiscuity and the sharing of needles."
AIDS advocates said James fails to understand that monogamous people can acquire HIV through unfaithful partners. Prevention and early intervention should be the focus of the task force, advocates maintain, not judging behaviors.
The first step should be to populate the task force with representatives from all various groups in the community, said the Rev. Gwendolyn Curry. "We must not continue to stigmatize. Everybody in this room is here because someone had unprotected sex," Curry said.
County Health Director Peter Safir told commissioners of the increase in HIV cases in recent years. In 2000, Mecklenburg County had 218 new HIV cases reported. The number climbed to 259 in 2001, and jumped to 309 in 2002. In the past five weeks, six people in Gaston County were diagnosed with HIV. Last year, Gaston reported just two to three new HIV cases per month.
09.04.2003; Howie Paul Hartnett
Gaston County, N.C., Health Officials Increase HIV Education Outreach to Respond to Sudden Infection Increase
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.