Daily HIV/AIDS Report

Opinion | Surgeon General Highlights Need for HIV/AIDS Education and Care Among African Americans
[Feb 28, 2001]

     In observance of Black History Month, Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, in a letter released to the media, calls the situation of HIV/AIDS among African Americans "dire" and notes that recent statistics reveal a "public health crisis" for the group. He points to 1998 statistics that show HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death for black men ages 25 to 44 and the second leading cause of death for black women in this age group. Among gay and bisexual men, most infected with HIV are African Americans, and female heterosexual HIV/AIDS cases are "found at a disproportionate rate among black women." According to Satcher, the reasons for silence on the issue of AIDS in this group are "largely unstated -- stigma with gay, bisexual, and transgender men and injection drug users who, as with the epidemic overall in this nation, represent the bulk of African-American cases." Because African Americans "struggle with inequality and poverty, which are associated with limited health care services, poor nutrition, and self-esteem issues that can result in inattention to health," a "disturbing vision" that AIDS in America "is increasingly becoming a disease of color and of the poor" is emerging. Satcher notes that black leaders have been playing a more prominent role in fighting the disease through the work of grassroots agencies and faith-based organizations to provide HIV/AIDS education and care. In 1998, the Congressional Black Caucus issued an emergency warning about the "heavy impact" of AIDS on blacks, an effort that won prevention and care resources from Congress and led to the creation of the Surgeon General's Leadership Campaign on AIDS to support efforts to "educate, motivate, and mobilize" against HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit the Leadership Campaign Web site at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/aids/tlcapage1.html (Surgeon General release, 2/2001).