In an effort to keep African-Americans and the country as a whole up to date on the latest HIV/AIDS statistics and information, the Black AIDS Institute and New York University’s Wagner School are sponsoring Left Behind-Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic tonight in New York City.
The panel includes Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, Monica Sweeney, M.D., assistant commissioner for New York City’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, Jacob Levenson, author of “The Secret Epidemic: The Story of AIDS and in Black America,” and Jacinda Jordan, a subcontract manager for the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia University.
The conversation is sure to include pertinent facts on the state of AIDS in Black America, and more specifically, in New York City. According to a report filed by the Black AIDS Institute, nearly 600,000 Black Americans are living with HIV, and as many as 30,000 Black people are newly infected each year. In New York City, Blacks living with HIV die two and a half times more often than HIV-infected Whites.
But now that church groups, Black politicians, celebrities and community activists have publicly taken on this charge, more activists are calling on the federal government and presidential candidates to acknowledge the AIDS epidemic here in the United States. Many HIV/AIDS activists feel that the issue of AIDS in America (especially in our communities) isn’t as much of a national priority.
Myisha Patterson-Gatson, director of mobilization for the Black AIDS Institute, believes it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges.
“The Left Behind report helps to frame the epidemic in Black America and serve as a call to action for the U.S. government. The AIDS crisis here has been around for 27 years and our government has yet to create a strategy. There is no national coordinating body. How can we hold other global countries accountable if we’re not doing it ourselves, especially when Black Americans with HIV are sometimes worse [off] than some of the countries we’re funding,” she said.
Interested in joining the cause? Get more information about the HIV/AIDS crisis facing Black America at blackaids.org.