Black Leaders Convene AIDS Mobilization Summit in Response to New Washington D.C. HIV/AIDS Data
Washington, D.C. -- Leaders of traditional Black political, civil rights, social, and faith based organizations will come together with local AIDS and community based organizations on Monday, May 4, 2009 for a D.C. Black AIDS Leadership Mobilization Summit to respond to recent data released by the D.C. Department of Health. The meeting will take place 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Kaiser Family Foundation located at 1310 G. Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. National television commentator Jeff Johnson will moderate the event.
On March 16, 2009, the D.C. Department of Health released its latest HIV surveillance report showing three percent of residents in the District already infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Four percent of Black residents in the District are estimated to already be infected with HIV. For Black men in the District the HIV prevalence was seven percent and 10 percent of Blacks in the District aged 40-49 are estimated to be infected.
"We have an extraordinary opportunity to change the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic in our nation's capital, and we must be committed to this fight," said Representative Donna M. Christensen (D-V.I.). Convened by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, (CBCF) the D.C. Department of Health, and other national and local organizations, the summit will focus on engaging and mobilizing traditional Black organizations in Washington, D.C., to act against AIDS in a concerted effort with local HIV/AIDS organizations. Organizers of the event are calling upon community leaders to seize the opportunity and create momentum for a mass Black mobilization against HIV/AIDS. This disease is destroying many African-American families in the District of Columbia," said Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer for CBCF. "We cannot remain passive out of a sense of denial or complacency. This is very serious and we must address it if we are to save lives," she said.
One of the major objectives of the meeting is to create a Black AIDS Mobilization plan for the District. In another study of heterosexual relationships and HIV in the District, the DC Department of Health found:
- Nearly 50% of people surveyed in the hardest-hit areas of Washington report having overlapping sexual partners in the last 12 months. Yet virtually no resources have been directed toward programs to alert sexually active adults to the special dangers of concurrent partnerships.
- 40% of participants had not been tested within the past 12 months. 50% of the people testing HIV positive did not know their status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of the new HIV infections in this country are caused by people who don't know their HIV status.
- More than 70% of participants did not use condoms.
Rep. Barbara Lee, of California and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Del. Donna M. Christensen of the Virgin Islands and head of the CBC Health Brain Trust will join leaders from various national and local community organizations to build a five point community mobilization agenda that will:
- Increase testing in the District,
- Increase utilization of care and treatment,
- Increase condom usage,
- Decrease concurrent relationships, and
- Decrease HIV/AIDS stigma.
Other organizational partners of the summit include: the NAACP, National Urban League, National Council of Negro Women, National Action Network, American Urban Radio Networks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, National Newspaper Publishers Association, National Organization of Black County Officials, National Medical Association, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, SCLC and 100 Black Men of America, the Community Education Group, Us Helping Us, The Women's Collective, Convent Baptist Church, Unity Health Care, Whitman Walker Clinic/Max Robinson Center, NAPWA, Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, Family & Medical Counseling Services, Black AIDS Institute, Balm in Gilead, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and the YWCA.
"Building a modern response to our modern HIV epidemic-with its scale and complexity-needs all leaders and community members to ask "what can I do" and to take action. We applaud the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the other summit partners for this community leadership call to action", said Dr. Shannon L. Hader, Senior Deputy Director D.C. Department of Health.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) was established in 1976 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and education institute to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities.
CBCF recently joined the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AALI), a five-year partnership with 14 of the nations leading African-American Organizations.
The summit is being supported by the M.A.C AIDS Fund and Kaiser Permanente. For more information or questions on this upcoming summit, please call the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation at (202) 263-0854 or email BAI.RSVP@Gmail.com.