Wednesday, February 4, 2009

THINK Asks We Think of African Americans

With Black History Month observed in Canada and the United States every February, THINK asks that you remember another African-American. His name is Phil Wilson, CEO of The Black AIDS Institute.

Wilson is 52 years old, and he has been diagnosed with HIV. He is also responsible for overseeing one of the most compelling AIDS studies in America, the Black AIDS in Black America report, which lays out the promise and the peril of the unique moment at which we arrived in this epidemic. You can download the 2009 edition here. Some key findings:

• Of more than 56,300 people who were newly infected in 2006, 45 percent were black.
• Of more than 1.1 million people who are HIV positive in the U.S., 46.1 percent are black.
• Black Americans were infected at a rate of seven times that of whites in 2006.
• Black women were infected at a rate of almost 15 times more than white women.

We can do better. In Clark County, Nev., we are trying to do better.

• Currently, there are 3,510 people living with HIV in Clark County; 879 (25%) are African-American.
• The number of AIDS cases reported in Clark County is 5,124, of that number 2,471 are now deceased.
• Of the remaining 2,653 AIDS cases, 1,265 are African-American.

Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN), specifically, is serving the African-American community through a number of support and education programs. One of the most popular programs is Project Upfront, which serves as an interactive HIV-positive speakers bureau. Among the many speakers in the group, these dedicated volunteers include African-Americans who focus on community outreach amongst teenagers and young adults. Both these groups are considered a high-risk population.

Another community partner, the Goshen Community Development Coalition, funds AFAN’s outreach efforts including the Healthy Relationship initiative targeting HIV-positive African-Americans and Positive Action, which is a drug prevention program.

AFAN programs assist and educate more than 3,000 men, women and children infected with HIV and AIDS in Southern Nevada.

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