NAACP President Urges Members to Address HIV/AIDS in Their Communities, Get Tested
July 17, 2006
NAACP President Bruce Gordon on Saturday at the opening of the organization's national convention in Washington, D.C., urged members to tackle HIV/AIDS in their communities and called on all attendees to be tested for HIV, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Gordon, along with NAACP Chair Julian Bond, then got a rapid HIV test at an on-site testing center and returned after 20 minutes for the results, a move that HIV/AIDS advocates praised. "It is such big deal to have high-profile people acknowledging the disease and being tested," Black AIDS Institute Executive Director Phill Wilson said, adding, "It tells our community that we are embracing the epidemic, that we have gotten over the stigma." The 97th annual convention -- which is offering on-site HIV counseling and testing at no cost -- began with a health symposium titled, "State of Emergency: Our Emergency: The HIV/AIDS Crisis in the Black Community." The symposium was followed by a performance about HIV/AIDS by actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fulbright, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16). In addition, "Faces," a documentary film produced by Bill Duke about six HIV-positive black women living in Washington, D.C., was shown at the convention and screened around the city in partnership with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC (Samuels, Washington Post, 7/17). This is the first year HIV/AIDS has been a priority at the convention, according to the Chronicle. NAACP leaders and members called HIV/AIDS the new civil rights movement and urged religious organizations to participate more in efforts to combat the disease. Delegate Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, vowed to keep advocating for federal funding for HIV/AIDS research and prevention and said members of the organization should vote for officials who pay attention to HIV/AIDS issues. Gordon is scheduled on Wednesday to lead thousands of NAACP members to Capitol Hill to push for more HIV/AIDS funding (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16). At the six-day convention, delegates also are scheduled to participate in panel discussions and workshops on voter empowerment, educational and economic gaps, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Otto, Washington Post, 7/16).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.