For the first time since the AIDS epedemic has claimed countless lives of African-Americans across America, black leaders have shifted their focus and made HIV/AIDS a priority.
Over the weekend the NAACP kicked off their 97th Annual conference in D.C.and President Bruce Gordon along with chairman Julian Bond addressed AIDS as a black disease that required our immediate attention.
Mr. Gordon called for everyone attending to get tested, and even lead by example when he walked to a testing site to receive an OraSure HIV Test.
Sheryl Lee Ralph was also on hand to perform her powerful one -woman show,"Sometimes I Cry: The Loves, Lives and Losses of Women Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS.
Phil Wilson, director of The Black Aids Institute in Los Angeles said,"It is such a big deal to have high-profile people acknowledging the disease and being tested, it tells our community that we are embracing the epidemic, that we have gotten over the stigma. That is crucial."
"The universal church has been a destructive force on HIV, saying that AIDS is a sin, a punishment from God," said Pernessa Seale, executive director of Balm in Gilead, a New York-based nonprofit that works to get churches to provide AIDS education and support. "It is 25 years later, and we are still fighting that myth, that lie.
AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE:
of the U.S. population
of new HIV diagnoses
of AIDS deaths
of new teen AIDS cases
of news AIDS cases among women
Source:San Francisco Chronicle/Leslie Fullbright