Is the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Good for Black Americans? Part 1: Reducing HIV Incidence
By Rod McCullom
August 31, 2010
"The CDC [recently] announced its latest round of HIV-prevention dollars. As much as the strategy wants to focus on the South, or Black women, we didn't see 50 percent of the funding going into that," Diallo added. C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, spoke more bluntly: "The African American implementation steps are extremely weak. The data puts the community in a health crisis with respect to HIV. [But the strategy] talks about compiling and assessing the strength and weaknesses of some of the existing programs, and trying to decide what are the best programs that work. No! We are too far into this epidemic -- 30 years almost, now -- with too many African Americans impacted for that."
Schoolin' the Community
The final platform of the prevention strategy is maximizing education. Research shows a lack of urgency (pdf) about HIV/AIDS among the public at large -- especially among Blacks. Robin Stanback Stevens, Ph.D. M.P.H., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, presented dissertation research at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna that surveyed television news coverage from 1993 to 2007. The research results found that Blacks "exhibit greater declines in HIV testing in response to news coverage than Whites." There has been a shift to stories about AIDS being an international, rather than an American, problem, and as a result, "Black Americans tend to think 'Africa' and less about their own communities when it comes to HIV," Dr. Stevens explains. "We've emphasized fighting HIV abroad and failed to focus on HIV/AIDS as a national issue and to emphasize the disparities among African Americans."
Rod McCullom has written and produced for ABC News and NBC, and his reporting and analysis have appeared in Ebony, The Advocate, ColorLines and other media.
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