HIV/AIDS: Conference Addresses Treatment Obstacles for African Americans
Public health experts and medical providers involved in health care for African Americans gathered yesterday in Los Angeles for the first of a series of follow-up conferences to the inaugural National Conference on African Americans and AIDS held in February. Conferees tackled the epidemiology of HIV in the U.S., the disconnect between the health care system and the African American community and issues involving HIV-infected women (Bristol-Myers Squibb/Johns Hopkins release, 8/3). Reuters Health reports that while African Americans make up only 11% of the city's population, they accounted for 25% of reported AIDS cases last year. Dr. Wilbert Jordan, conference moderator and director of the OASIS Clinic and AIDS Program of the King Drew Medical Center, said, "If we do not address this problem, if it gets further out of hand, then we will be approaching a situation similar to what is happening in the Third World" (8/5). He added, "Conquering the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African- American community is all about access. It is essential for these programs to have the support of leaders from all walks of African-American life: the church, civic, fraternal and corporate organizations and medical providers who treat African-Americans." Conference organizer Dr. Elaine Daniels said, "We also encounter some major obstacles when trying to contain this epidemic in the African-American community. One in particular is the stigma that is associated with HIV/AIDS, which often prevents African- Americans from seeking initial treatment or engaging in prevention-oriented behaviors. To help address this situation, we must begin to help African-Americans understand how proper treatment and new therapies can help those who are HIV positive live longer and healthier lives." Also speaking were public health experts Dr. Stephen Thomas of Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Alexandra Levine, chair of the Research Committee for the Presidential HIV/AIDS Advisory Council. The conference is sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and supported through an educational grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Immunology (Bristol-Myers release, 8/3).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.