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NAACP Raises Alarm Over Growing Cases of AIDS in African-American Communities: Poverty, Lack of Health Care Causes Disproportionate Rate Amongst African-Americans

Washington- In observance of World AIDS Day, December 1st, the NAACP stands united in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.  The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988 to provide national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic.
NAACP chapters and branches across the country, including California, New York, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Texas will use World AIDS Day 2010 as a day to highlight the AIDS issue in their communities and will host a number of community events including community-wide forums, education sessions and free screenings. In addition, the NAACP is working to mobilize pastors in states with the highest concentration of HIV-infected African-Americans to have open discussions about the HIV epidemic and direct parishioners to services in their communities.
HIV and AIDS has hit African-Americans the hardest, shattering families and destroying lives.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite the reasons for the racial disparity as not just related to race, but rather to barriers faced by many African-Americans. These barriers include poverty, access to health care and the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
“We must not forget the devastating effects HIV/AIDS has on communities of color across this country,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “That is why the NAACP has partnered with a number of national organizations and our local units to put a stop to the ‘forgotten epidemic’. The NAACP is committed to being a major force behind the education of communities and a strong advocate for better health services and HIV/AIDS testing. Knowledge is the first step to better health and access to services is critical if we are to overcome this crisis,” concluded Jealous.
Even though Blacks account for about 13 percent of the US population, they are almost half (49 percent) of the people living with HIV and AIDS. African-Americans represent 51 percent of the 42,655 (including children) new HIV/AIDS diagnoses and 48 percent of the 551,932 persons, including children, living with HIV. AIDS is the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34 and the second leading cause of death in Black men ages 35-44 years. 1 in 30 Black women and 1 in 16 Black men will be infected with HIV in their lifetime.
“It is staggering to think that a group of people that makes up only 13 percent of the country’s population includes over half of the newly diagnosed HIV-infected individuals each year,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP Chairman of the National Board of Directors. “The uneven distribution of HIV infections indicates that there are specific challenges faced by the African-American community that are resulting in an astronomical increase in the rate at which African-Americans contract the HIV virus,” concluded Brock.
The NAACP is also a partner with the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health and Gilead Sciences.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.