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Medical Professionals To Discuss HIV/AIDS Issues In Black Community

Armen Hareyan's picture

Dozens of ministers from across the country on Monday in New York City gathered with representatives from the National Medical Association, the Congressional Black Caucus and other groups to develop a plan for addressing HIV/AIDS in the black community, USA Today reports.

During the two-day meeting, convened by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS,participants will discuss recommendations from NMA -- which includesabout 30,000 black doctors and in August declared HIV/AIDS among blacksa public health emergency -- for fighting the epidemic in the U.S. Theconference also aims to educate pastors about how they can combatHIV/AIDS in their communities, such as providing information about thedisease and building relationships with social service agencies thatcan assist members living with the disease. Bishop T.D. Jakes of theDallas-based Potter's Housechurch, who is co-chairing the meeting, said the conference also willdemonstrate to 2008 presidential candidates the importance of reachingout to black congregations and supporting HIV/AIDS research andeducation.

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Jakes -- whose church hasmore than 30,000 members -- said, "We can hold our politiciansaccountable," adding, "Now is the time for the church to give a clarioncall to government that this is one of the issues high on our radarscreen." The Rev. Calvin Butts -- senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church,who is co-chairing the meeting -- said, "Since the movement of the[1960s], we haven't seen a gathering of African-American clergy personslike this around a specific issue," adding, "At that time, it was civilrights and human rights. Now it's a major health crisis which isimpacting our community." Butts also said that for "25 years we've beendealing with this crisis, ... but I don't think there's been enoughattention paid to it, and I think our efforts have not had the powerthat they can have because we have not come together as we are doingnow."

NBLCA President Debra Fraser-Howze said, "We have a timebomb on our hands," adding, "I think that the black church will openlyadmit that they have not done enough in regard to HIV and AIDS. ...This is the time for them to come together to use their collectiveinfluence to make a national statement on what needs to happen."According to CDC estimates from 2005, blacks made up about 13% of the U.S. population but accounted for 49% of new AIDS diagnoses (Jones, USA Today, 10/8).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.