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National News

Effort to Fight AIDS Among Blacks Rises

March 3, 2003

Newspapers, magazines and television networks with predominantly black audiences began an unprecedented public awareness campaign in recent weeks, running stories and ads in a coordinated attempt to educate people about AIDS. And the media outlets have committed to continuing the push through this year.

Independently, thousands of black churches were beginning an annual "week of prayer for the healing of AIDS" at services on March 2. And community groups nationwide offered educational programs and free testing as part of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Experts and advocates say such undertakings are more important than ever. More blacks -- roughly 152,000 -- were living with AIDS in 2001, a number larger than any other racial or ethnic group, according to CDC.

While black organizations have been working to fight AIDS for years, the media effort, called the Drumbeat Project, is new. The Black AIDS Institute began developing it about 17 months ago: participating media companies have promised to double their AIDS coverage this year.

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There is some disagreement about whether the church, a cornerstone of the black community, has done enough to combat AIDS. Debra Fraser-Howze, president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, said black churches have "done a phenomenal job." But Don Sneed, executive director of Renaissance III, an AIDS service organization in Dallas, said black gay men with AIDS may feel they cannot seek help from the church. "On any given Sunday, in any given black church in the country, you can hear that old spiel, 'God didn't create Adam and Steve, he created Adam and Eve,'" said Sneed, who is black. "This is drilled into young black boys from the minute they hit the church."

The Rev. Alberta Ware, spokesperson for the Balm in Gilead, a New York-based nonprofit organizing the national week of prayer, said she has seen progress. Her group works with more than 10,000 churches. And pastors, she said, "realize it's beyond epidemic proportions."

Back to other CDC news for March 3, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
02.28.03; Deborah Kong



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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