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Local and Community News

Delaware AIDS Activist Lost 2 Sons to Disease

February 7, 2003

AIDS took the lives of Millicent Cannon's sons, two black men in their 30s for whom she had a mother's hopes and dreams. Cannon will share her sons' story Friday as part of a second annual Wilmington, Del., conference in recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Cannon said she hopes to make a difference by talking openly about her sons, who contracted AIDS from drug needles. She said she wants to help reduce the stigma and discrimination patients face, as well as spread a message of caring that she has taken to patients and service agencies as a volunteer. "God is using me," she said. "I turn my losses into gains by helping others."

African Americans make up 20 percent of Delaware's population but account for 66 percent of adult AIDS cases and 70 percent of pediatric cases, according to Mawuna Gardesey of the state Office of Minority Health. Through the end of last year, 2,996 Delaware residents had been diagnosed with AIDS, and 1,468 of them had died, he said.

Gardesey is one of about 20 speakers from throughout the region scheduled for Friday's conference, where he will discuss statistics and talk about "The Challenge to Make a Difference."

The "We Need You to Survive!" conference, including dinner, is free and open to the public with advance registration. Registration on Friday night will be on a space-available basis, organizers said. The conference is 6-9 p.m.

The gathering, sponsored by the Faith Community Partnership Against HIV/AIDS, aims to focus the minority community's attention on the problem, share information and emphasize several crucial messages, organizers said. The messages include promoting AIDS prevention, encouraging others to help those affected, and developing the role of churches.

"When my boys were diagnosed [in the 1980s], AIDS was a no-no. Nobody said anything. We didn't even have a clinic," said Cannon, who has one surviving child, daughter Ella, 40. She lost another daughter to cancer, and a third son was shot to death. Cannon said promoting prevention and treatment is especially important because people have a better understanding of the problem now than they did when the epidemic began.

Back to other CDC news for February 7, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
News Journal (Wilmington, Del.)
02.06.03; Robin Brown

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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.