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Editorials and Commentary

Honor Martin Luther King Jr. by Working to Fight AIDS

January 21, 2003

"If the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, no single problem would demand more of his attention than the HIV/AIDS crisis.

"Though Dr. King died well over a decade before we heard of AIDS... his own words help to make the case:

"'As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than 28 or 30 years, I can never be totally healthy.'...

"...The United States and other wealthy nations ought to contribute much more than they have to the grossly underfunded UN Global AIDS Fund. President Bush's proposed $200 million contribution for this fiscal year falls pitifully short of the $1 billion investment requested of the United States by the United Nations. And it bespeaks a crisis of moral vision, particularly in the wake of a war in Afghanistan that cost $1 billion per month. ...

"Baltimore's recent declaration of a state of emergency is a step in the right direction. What is needed now is a fiscal and programmatic response from the public and private sectors that will extend and expand the recently reported success of decreasing incidences of HIV/AIDS in areas of the city that have received intense intervention....

"All of us have a role to play in building what Dr. King called 'the beloved community,' and what I like to call a 'culture of compassion,' by resisting the unholy trinity of silence, shame and stigma as it aids and abets the havoc that the virus is wreaking in our community.

"Clergy, public servants, teachers and other opinion-shapers should consider going in mass numbers to get tested, both as a way of encouraging others to do the same and as a means of countering the misinformation and social stigma that can be as deadly as the virus.

"By resisting prejudice and putting our bodies in the struggle, we embrace the very heart of the King legacy and appropriately honor a life captured well in the title of a sermon he once preached. It was simply called 'Standing by the Best in an Evil Time.'"

The Rev. Warnock is pastor of the Douglas Memorial Community Church and co-chair of the Baltimore Affiliate of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

Back to other CDC news for January 21, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Baltimore Sun
01.20.03; Raphael G. Warnock

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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.