US Government Should Declare HIV/AIDS Among Blacks Health Emergency

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Ministers attending a conference hosted by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDSon Tuesday in New York City called on the government to declareHIV/AIDS among blacks a public health emergency and proposedlegislation to address the disease within the community, the AP/Silive.comreports (Hajela, AP/Silive.com, 10/9). Ministers from across thecountry gathered on Monday for the two-day meeting with representativesfrom the National Medical Association, the Congressional Black Caucus and other groups to discuss HIV/AIDS issues in the black community (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/9).

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Theministers called for the development of a plan to address HIV/AIDSnationwide and pledged to promote HIV/AIDS testing and awareness amongtheir congregations (AP/Silive.com, 10/9). Ministers also committed tocollaborate with CBC on a proposed bill, titled the National HIV/AIDSElimination Act, which they are working to introduce in Congress byJanuary, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreports. The legislation calls on the president to declare HIV/AIDSamong blacks a public health emergency, which would trigger money andresources to fight the disease, NBLCA President Debra Fraser-Howze said(Hajela, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/9).

Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Dallas-based Potter's Housechurch, who is co-chairing the meeting, said the conference also will"scrutinize" 2008 presidential candidates to ensure that preventingHIV/AIDS in the black community is on their agendas. "We will supportonly those candidates who have this as a primary interest item on theiragendas as well," Jakes said (AP/Silive.com, 10/9). He added, "Ourfocus right now is saving lives. Tomorrow we can save souls" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/9). According to the Rev. Calvin Butts -- senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church,who is co-chairing the meeting -- the perception that black churcheshave not been involved with the fight against HIV/AIDS is incorrect."The clergy has always been involved," he said, adding, "Not enoughpeople have paid attention to what the church has actually been doing"(AP/Silive.com, 10/9).

According to CDC estimates from 2005, blacks made up about 13% of the U.S. population but accounted for 49% of new AIDS diagnoses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/9).

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.

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