AFRICAN AMERICANS: Los Angeles AIDS Crisis Calls for Leaders
Noting in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that African Americans are "confront[ing] a health crisis as severe as any in their history," author Susan Anderson calls for a response "on the scale of African American health activism from 1915-1950" which produced the National Negro Health Week campaign. "If the disease is to be controlled and abated, African American leaders must show a greater willingness to shoulder their part of the burden of community mobilization," Anderson writes. She argues that one of their first actions should be "to loosen the chokehold on the ability of California's public-health system to contain the AIDS virus and report it to the federal government." She urges Gov. Gray Davis to veto AB 103, which would create a "unique identifier" system for reporting those with HIV and pushes for a names reporting system. She says that there "simply is no effective substitute for a name-based notification service that allows public-health workers to treat HIV as they do all communicable diseases." In addition, Anderson urges black health activists to look at the achievements of National Negro Health Week, which she credits with "put[ting] black health on the federal agenda." Indicating that the newly-formed Los Angeles-based Alliance of Black Women Organizations, led by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), "is a bridge between past and future health activism," Anderson concludes that the "network can play an important leadership role on behalf of their vulnerable sisters and other afflicted with AIDS. By borrowing from the organizing approach that led to the National Negro Health Week, these women could wage a more effective war against the HIV/AIDS catastrophe in their communities" (Anderson, 10/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.