September 8, 2006
This year's theme is "AIDS in Blackface: 25 Years of an Epidemic." The teach-in will include a special Open Mic/Teen Summit, sponsored by BET's (BET) Rap It Up campaign.
This conference will give Black college students the information and resources they need to make a meaningful and valuable contribution to stopping the spread of HIV in Black communities. It will also help the students raise awareness about the magnitude of HIV/AIDS among their peers and educate them on the ways in which HIV impacts their lives (relationships, health, spirituality, etc). Ultimately, this conference will serve as an impetus to mobilize Black college students to take on leadership roles to battle the spread of HIV on their campuses and in their communities.
"By educating Black college students across a broad spectrum on the facts, science and impact of HIV/AIDS, we hope to empower them to make meaningful contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS in their communities," said Shaunna Cooper, chair of LIFE AIDS. "We also plan to help Black college students create networks on their campuses and in their communities that would allow AIDS service organizations to provide free testing on campus."
AIDS remains one of the leading causes of death for African-Americans in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, today people under the age of 25 account for half of all new HIV infections each year. Within that group, Blacks account for 56 percent of new infections. Among 13 to 19 year olds, Blacks account for 66 percent of the new HIV infections in the U.S. Among 20 to 24 year olds, Blacks account 53 percent of the new HIV infections in the U.S.
While race itself is not a risk factor for HIV infection, the stigma of HIV, denial, and the lack of culturally appropriate information and resources for support, all serve as barriers to early HIV testing, diagnosis, and treatment among African-Americans, Cooper said.
"Education, empowerment, and mobilization; and developing a network of Black college students from diverse backgrounds that can speak "peer-to-peer" about the myths and the facts around HIV/AIDS is critical to the acceptance of the magnitude of the disease in Black communities and dismantle ling the inertia that prevents an effective community-wide response to the disease," said Phill Wilson, executive director Black AIDS Institute.