Communities of Color Feed

March 28, 2011

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Honoring Dr. Mark Colomb’s Contribution to the Response to HIV

 By Christopher Bates, Executive Director, Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

PEPFAR

Dr. Mark Colomb

This week we lost another leader in the HIV community. Dr. Mark Colomb (1963-2011) was passionately committed to Mississippi and other southern communities; and he focused on responding to the needs of Black men who have sex with men. Dr. Colomb participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) consultation which resulted in the establishment of the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) in 1997. The MAI provides critical resources to enhance and increase the access of racial and ethnic minorities to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment services. Dr. Colomb’s work helped pave the way for the creation of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) Exit Disclaimer, an HIV/AIDS testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeting the Black community; the founding of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Exit Disclaimer, a national organization dedicated to reducing health disparities in African-Americans, where he served as President/CEO; and the Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) Exit Disclaimer at Jackson State University (JSU) Exit Disclaimer, which serves as a clearinghouse for dissemination of research data on pressing urban issues.

As we remember Dr. Colomb, I encourage you to watch the following video from the Black AIDS Institute Exit Disclaimer where he speaks about his work in response to HIV in Mississippi:

March 18, 2011

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Defying the Odds: End the Rise of HIV/AIDS in Native American Communities

By Charlie Galbraith, Associate Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement (Cross-posted from the Office of National AIDS Policy Blog)

HIV remains a highly stigmatized condition. It is a serious medical condition and people still die of AIDS.  Nonetheless, we have highly effective treatments for people living with HIV and better tools than ever before to prevent infection. As uncomfortable as it may be for some people to talk about HIV and AIDS, discussing the basic facts about transmission, testing, and treatment are essential to stopping this epidemic in its tracks. That is why on Sunday, March 20th, we will commemorate the fifth annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to educate and encourage American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) to take action to stop the spread of this disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that American Indians and Alaska Natives represent less than 1 percent of those living with HIV. However, these communities continue to be impacted by HIV. CDC surveillance data show that from 2006 through 2009, the estimated annual rate of HIV diagnosis increased among AI/AN people. In 2009, the estimated rate of HIV diagnosis was 9.8 per 100,000, higher than the rate for white and Asian Americans. Additionally, the CDC estimates that approximately 26% of AI/AN people living with HIV are unaware of their infection. Once diagnosed with AIDS, AI/AN people are less likely to survive compared to HIV-positive individuals in other communities.

Continue reading "Defying the Odds: End the Rise of HIV/AIDS in Native American Communities " »

February 23, 2011

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Dr. Eric Goosby's Story: Fighting HIV/AIDS Around the Globe

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (Cross-posted from The White House Blog)

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights African Americans from across the Administration whose work contributes to the President's goals for winning the future.

Ambassador Eric Goosby

I live by the motto “To Live and To Serve.” In addition to the great influence of my mother and father, this perspective has led me to a career that has combined my passions for medicine and public service. After growing up in San Francisco and attending college at Princeton University, I earned an M.D. at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where I also completed my internship and residency with a fellowship in General Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases. As a young physician in the 1980s in San Francisco, I found myself in the middle of the emerging AIDS epidemic in America, which became the focus of my career. I now have almost 30 years of experience with HIV/AIDS, ranging from these early years treating patients at San Francisco General Hospital, to engagement at high- level policy leadership. In the Clinton Administration, I served as one of the President’s advisors on HIV/AIDS. As the first Director of the Ryan White Care Act at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I helped develop HIV/AIDS delivery systems in the United States. After leaving government, I joined the NGO Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation as CEO and Chief Medical Officer in 2001, where I turned my focus from the domestic epidemic to the global HIV/AIDS emergency.

It is a pleasure to now serve President Obama and Secretary Clinton as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State, where I lead all of the U.S. government’s international HIV/AIDS efforts. I oversee the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which works in more than 80 developing countries that are heavily burdened by HIV. This work is the largest response to a single disease in the history of the world. To me, PEPFAR embodies President Obama’s State of the Union’s message of “Winning the Future” for America. It reflects the generosity of the American people and leads countries riddled by the HIV epidemic to greater economic stability and security. The program focuses on prevention strategies to decrease new infections, and life-saving treatment and care for those already living with HIV. We currently support treatment for over 3.2 million people, up from fewer than 2.5 million in 2009. In 2010 alone, we supported HIV counseling for 33 million people, and care for 12 million people, including 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children. By reaching over 600,000 mothers in 2010 with services to prevention mother-to-child transmission of HIV, we allowed over 114,000 babies to be born free of HIV. In all we do, we have focused on making smart investments to save as many lives as possible.

February 07, 2011

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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Coming Together to Fight HIV/AIDS

By Jeffrey S. Crowley, M.P.H., Director, Office of National AIDS Policy (Cross-posted from the Office of National AIDS Policy Blog)

To commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett shared her heart-felt thoughts on the importance of combating HIV/AIDS. Watch her video message:

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness is not just a day to increase awareness, but a day to act on your own health.

  • Do you know your status? If not, text your zipcode to 566948 (“KNOWIT”) to find and HIV testing site near you or go to HIVtest.org.
  • You can also call 1-800-CDC-INFORMATION for more information and testing sites in your area.
  • Visit www.AIDS.gov for Federal resources, events in your area and tools to commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., FFPH, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC (Cross-posted from Health Protection, Perspectives Blog)

Health Protection Perspectives

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to reflect on the lives touched by and lost to HIV/AIDS. In the United States, HIV continues to take its toll on African Americans, who have the highest rates of HIV infection of all races. Blacks make up just 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet account for almost half of those living and dying with HIV and AIDS in this country.

There are many complex social and environmental factors that fuel the epidemic in African American communities. Especially concerning is poverty and the high level of unemployment within black communities during this current economic crisis. There are other factors associated with poverty that directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with HIV, including limited access to quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education. Additionally, higher prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in black communities can significantly increase the chance of contracting HIV infection. Moreover, stigma and homophobia – far too prevalent in every community – continue to prevent many African Americans from seeking HIV testingExternal Web Site Icon., prevention and treatment.

While these realities paint a bleak picture, there is another image that has been unfolding – one of hope. As I have travelled throughout the United States, I have seen hope in the eyes of those receiving prevention services funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I have met many leaders of community organizations, faith-based groups and national African American institutions who are bringing hope to black communities as they advocate for the prevention of HIV. And now their work is supported by the President of the United States. In July, 2010, President Obama launched the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which provides a first-ever blueprint for fighting the U.S. epidemic, with a particular focus on populations hardest hit, including African Americans.

I also see hope in the fact that HIV prevention is working. The number of new infections among African Americans is stable and has been for more than a decade – despite the growing number of people living with HIV who can potentially transmit the disease. Additionally, there are dramatic declines in new infections in several categories where African Americans are disproportionately represented, such as mother-to-child transmission and injection drug use.

Black communities are more mobilized than ever against HIV. Nearly 500 organizations are sponsoring or have sponsored National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events External Web Site Icon.in the United States as well as in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. African American leaders from every walk of life – business, civil rights, entertainment, government and media – are speaking out and taking action at events across the nation, from health fairs and workshops to candlelight vigils and HIV testing events.

At CDC, HIV prevention in black communities remains one of our top priorities. Last year, more than half of our HIV prevention budget was invested to fight HIV among African Americans. Recently, CDC expanded a multi-million dollar testing initiative to reach more African Americans with HIV testing. And through CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, CDC seeks to harness the collective strength and reach of longstanding black community institutions to increase HIV-related awareness, knowledge, and action across the nation.

Everyone has a part to play in this fight against HIV as infection is completely preventable. On this NBHAAD, get the facts about HIV. Get tested. Speak out against homophobia and stigma. Everyone and every action counts.

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