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U.S. News

California: HIV/AIDS Crisis Still a State of Emergency in Alameda County

February 4, 2009

More than 10 years after Alameda County declared HIV/AIDS a state of emergency, officials there say the situation now more closely resembles a state of complacency. "There's a perception that the crisis is over, which is definitely not the case," said Kabir Hypolite, acting director of the Alameda County Office of AIDS Administration.

As advocates prepare to observe Saturday's annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, they note that Oakland lies at the heart of Alameda's crisis. County data show 54-65 percent of AIDS diagnoses annually come from the city. Hypolite said cases are concentrated in east and west Oakland, and African Americans are especially hard hit.

"People just don't want to claim it. They don't think it's their problem," said Gloria Lockett, co-founder and executive director of Cal-PEP, which offers free HIV testing year-round.

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Local leaders are concerned that ongoing efforts to slow the epidemic will stall as the state grapples with a budget crisis and the country faces an economic downturn. Hypolite said the county has already lost $800,000 in state funding for HIV prevention efforts, about half of its budget.

Despite a loss in state and federal funding, Hypolite said the community must do more to turn things around. Black churches in particular must play a greater role in HIV/AIDS outreach efforts, he said.

Charley Hames, pastor of Beebe Memorial Cathedral, said he has received that message. His church has chosen to be proactive in preventing HIV/AIDS by participating in free testing events and educating congregants about the disease. "It's not condoning any behavior," said Hames. "It's just saying, ?We love you enough to say take care of yourself.'"

Back to other news for February 2009

Adapted from:
Contra Costa Times
02.03.2009; Shauntel Lowe


  
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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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