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Local and Community News

Chicago: Message of HIV/AIDS Awareness Brought to Black Community

February 10, 2003

Twelve-year-old, Mankeeta McCants was happy with the radio she got just for showing up at an HIV/AIDS awareness rally Saturday morning in Chicago. Her mother was happy the girl got information that could save her life. "She needs to be aware what's out there, [that] this is a disease that she can get," said Pilar Boozer after the rally near her home in a public housing complex on Chicago's south side. "She needs to know this isn't a gay disease, it isn't a white disease, it's a human disease."

The event was an extension of Friday's National Black HIV Awareness Day. Organizers tried to attract an audience by giving away toys and lunches to the children and sacks of potatoes to their parents. The tactic worked -- and it didn't. "We gave away 300 bags of potatoes to people who got potatoes and left," said Herschel Gamble, one of the organizers. "Next time we'll wait until the end to give the potatoes."

The audience was told about how in recent years there have been more cases of AIDS among blacks than any other group. They were reminded that unprotected heterosexual sex can lead to HIV/AIDS. If it sounds like a simple message, it is also a message that has not gotten through to black children and some adults, organizers said. "When we asked them to raise their hands if they even knew what AIDS was, only a handful of them did," Gamble said. "Not just the kids, but adults, too. There's still a lot of, 'This is a gay, white disease,'" said Clifford Armstead, a community activist who is HIV-positive. "They still think it's not their disease."

Children said they got something out of the rally, even some who giggled when they heard certain words or saw condoms and other birth control devices on display.

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McCants acknowledged she got more than a radio out of the rally. "I won't just go and have sex with anybody," she said. "I will have protection."

Back to other CDC news for February 10, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
02.08.03; Don Babwin



  
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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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