Friday, August 01, 2008

600,000 Black Americans Living With HIV

The Black AIDS Institute issued a report called "Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic"(pdf) on Tuesday which the New York Times noted on Wednesday includes the observation that if Black America was a separate nation, it would rank sixteenth in the number of people living with HIV and 104th in life expectancy.

Those and other disparities are “staggering,” said [Black and openly gay] Dr. Kevin A. Fenton, who directs H.I.V. prevention efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency responsible for tracking the epidemic in the United States.

“It is a crisis that needs a new look at prevention,” Dr. Fenton said.


The Black AIDS Institute took note of [PEPFAR] in criticizing the administration’s efforts at home. The group said that more black Americans were living with the AIDS virus than the infected populations in Botswana, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Namibia, Rwanda or Vietnam — 7 of the 15 countries that receive support from the administration’s anti-AIDS program.

The international effort is guided by a strategic plan, clear benchmarks like the prevention of seven million H.I.V. infections by 2010 and annual progress reports to Congress, the group said. By contrast, it went on, “America itself has no strategic plan to combat its own epidemic.”

In a telephone interview, Dr. Fenton said, “We recognize this is a crisis, and clearly more can be done.”

The institute, based in Los Angeles, describes itself as the only national H.I.V./AIDS study group focused exclusively on black people. Phill Wilson, the group’s chief executive and an author of the report, said his group supported the government’s international anti-AIDS program. But Mr. Wilson’s report also said that “American policy makers behave as if AIDS exists ‘elsewhere’ — as if the AIDS problem has been effectively solved” in this country.

The XVII International AIDS Conference will be held August 3-8 in Mexico City.

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