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U.S. News

Detroiters in Rush to Catch Up on AIDS Fight

December 8, 2006

In predominantly black metropolitan areas such as Washington and Detroit, HIV/AIDS' impact is high. "Our real issue is that it's spreading at an alarming rate in the black community while other communities have been successful in abating it," said the Rev. Horace Sheffield, a Detroit activist who recently launched a local chapter of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

Sheffield is working with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to encourage city churches to tackle HIV testing with the same commitment many bring to screening for diabetes and high blood pressure. But obstacles to mobilizing the black community against HIV/AIDS abound. Among them are:

  • Funding cuts in federal and state programs: Despite President Bush's call for a $17 million increase in funds for HIV testing, the money has not yet been appropriated. Michigan's Department of Community Health has cut nearly $300,000 for community-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the past three years.
  • Federal bans on funding for needle-exchange programs: Because they rely on private funds, needle-exchange programs are few even though Michigan's and Detroit's health departments advocate them.
  • Limited HIV tests for prisoners and bans on condom distribution in most state prison systems, including Michigan's.
  • Failure of schools to educate young people more fully about HIV.

"The current state of affairs in the African-American community for HIV infection and AIDS is staggering," Kilpatrick said recently. "Two things need to be done. We need to start talking about it, from the kitchen table to the pulpit… and we need to know ourselves, accept ourselves and get comfortable with ourselves and each other, so we can make better progress against the transmission of HIV and AIDS."

Back to other news for December 8, 2006

Adapted from:
Detroit Free Press
12.01.2006; Patricia Anstett

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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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