Georgia: New Group Plans Protests to Fight AIDS Among Blacks
October 16, 2006
On Oct. 2, Atlanta's AIDS Survival Project organized a meeting of activists to devise strategies to foster HIV awareness among African Americans. According to Georgia Department of Human Resources statistics, African Americans, who make up 29 percent of the population of Georgia, account for 76 percent of all new AIDS cases, 70 percent of people living with AIDS, and 70 percent of HIV patients in the state. The data, which run through 2004, show that gay and bisexual men account for 48 percent of new AIDS cases in Georgia and 52 percent of cumulative HIV/AIDS patients.
"For any group to be 76 percent of anything, that has to be an emergency, and it needs resources," said Greg Smith, director of prevention services for AIDS Survival Project.
Activists at the Oct. 2 meeting decided against holding a town hall meeting, which had not yielded good results in the past. Instead, they favored writing letters and issuing HIV/AIDS report cards to politicians and black groups such as the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The group plans to follow up those communications with protests targeting local media outlets.
The group, called "Campaign for Declaring a State of Emergency of HIV/AIDS in the African-American Community," plans to also target county commissioners and Atlanta's mayor with protests. Since homophobia among blacks hinders HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, the activist agreed not to stress gay rights in their efforts.
"It is absolutely imperative that we not make this a gay issue because this is not a gay issue, this is a black folk issue," Smith told the gathering.
Southern Voice (Atlanta)
10.06.2006; Ryan Lee