African-American Women Leaders Urge Obama to Target Black Women in National AIDS Strategy
African-American women in leadership positions in business, academia, media, and other fields gathered last month at a conference in Washington to discuss how the National AIDS Strategy (NAS) could best address the specific needs of black women. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 25-34, but these women are "rarely focused on as a group," said the coalition, which was organized by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA).
African Americans "remain notably absent from public policy and resource-allocation decisions affecting communities of African descent nationwide," said C. Virginia Fields, NBLCA's president and CEO.
The women made NAS policy recommendations that fell under three broad themes: reducing HIV incidence, expanding access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Their suggestions were:
- Create a surveillance system that includes social determinants relating to HIV incidence.
- Integrate efforts addressing domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health.
- Create a clear marketing plan so African-American women see themselves in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- Develop and support public campaigns that encourage women's participation in service programs.
- Provide mobile health care services for underserved communities.
- Encourage "cross-fertilization" among federal offices that address the same populations, and encourage those programs to solicit input from African-American women.
- Conform resource allocation to the epidemic's realities, including by offering HIV testing in non-traditional settings.
- Develop programs to address issues including stigma, addiction and gender identity.
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