February 6, 2009
Los Angeles, Calif. -- The historic election of Barack Obama, a congressional majority more supportive of the AIDS fight, and a Black America more engaged than ever before, could create real, lasting change in the course of the U.S. AIDS epidemic, says a new report released today by the Black AIDS Institute. At the same time, 2008 witnessed great setbacks, particularly in the effort to prevent the virus' spread. "Making Change Real: The State of AIDS in Black America 2009" lays out both the promise and the peril of the unique moment at which we've arrived in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States.
"With our country facing so many challenges -- two wars, a financial meltdown and the growing threat of environmental devastation -- it may be tempting to relegate the AIDS epidemic to the back burner of national priorities. That would be a grave mistake," says Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute.
New infections: In 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its long-awaited study re-examining the size and depth of the U.S. epidemic. Using new technology that allows researchers to learn more detail about individual HIV infections, the CDC discovered, among other things:
The 2009 State of AIDS in Black America report includes a chart pack -- "The Black Epidemic: By the Numbers" -- which details key data about the Black epidemic.
Deaths: The racial disparity in AIDS deaths continued in data released last year:
Resources: The federal commitment to all areas of AIDS work -- prevention, treatment and research -- has all but disappeared.
While the challenges are great, Black America is perhaps better poised to meet them today than ever before.
"The new Obama administration has vowed to take action on several fronts, including drafting America's first comprehensive strategy to direct our efforts. But just as crucial, Black America is engaged like never before. From individuals on up to our traditional Black organizations," said Wilson. "We've accepted the idea that this is our problem and we must find the solution."
In 2006, 16 traditional Black institutions launched the National Black AIDS Mobilization by signing on to the National Call to Action and Declaration of Commitment to End the AIDS Epidemic in Black America. The 16 institutions are not typical AIDS organizations. These groups, many of which have histories that span generations, were founded to meet a wide range of communal needs and concerns; they have now formally added AIDS to their work.
This report offers an update on the progress each group has made in fulfilling its pledge to act. Many of them have made great strides; others are just beginning their work. In all cases, far more resources and support are required from both public and private funders who seek to impact the AIDS epidemic.
Some examples from the State of Our Movement section of the report include:
The Report concludes with both recommendations for the President and his administration, as well suggestions to how individuals can get involved in fighting the AIDS epidemic a personal, community and societal level.
For more information about the Black AIDS Institute, and to download a copy of the report, click here: "Making Change Real: The State of AIDS In Black America 2009".
Executive Summary also available here.