6. The Media: Turn Up the Volume
The media play a critical role in how much attention America pays to AIDS in the black community -- and how much the black community pays attention to AIDS.
But in general, African Americans haven't exploited the power of the press to expose the gaping racial inequities surrounding HIV/AIDS in this country, and the press' performance on covering the African-American epidemic has been equally disappointing -- especially compared to the amount of ink and images devoted to AIDS in Africa.
Dr. Alvin Poussaint
Enter the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), founded in 2004 to influence officials, clergy and -- above all -- the media on issues and trends effecting gay African Americans. The proactive group not only critiques the news with opinion pieces and editorials; it also makes news by holding press conferences and sponsoring summits to address critical HIV issues, such as that recent meeting in Atlanta between heads of black churches and leading gay and AIDS advocates. Still, NBJC's focus is necessarily limited to gay issues, even though all African Americans infected or affected by HIV deserve media coverage.
What you can do: Information is power -- not only where HIV and your own health are concerned, but also for the black AIDS epidemic in general. Stay informed on how the media cover HIV/AIDS issues by bookmarking the leading HIV news Web sites, including the Black AIDS Institute, the National Black Justice Coalition and The Body. If you have e-mail, join those sites' mailing lists for free e-mail updates.
Also take the time to write letters to the editor whenever you notice your favorite newspaper, magazine or TV news program neglecting black HIV/AIDS issues. They may not publish your letter, but they will read it -- and the more letters they read, the more likely they'll be to do something about it.