World AIDS Day 2011

Today is World AIDS Day. It’s a time to reflect on the toll that AIDS/HIV continues take in the black community. The rate of infection appears to climbing among black women. That is a grave problem.

On Sunday, December 4, interested New Yorkers should attend Many Women, One Voice: African American Women & HIV – Video Premiere and Community Discussion at Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 Odell Clark Place (138th bet. Lenox & 7th Ave). December 4th, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. RSVP to Leatrice Wactor at 212-694-6290 or

For a complete calendar of NYC events visit NBLCA.

The national black response to this situation has not been as successful as the Gay and Lesbian community (which maintains ownership of a health threat that has been declining in that community). The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) theme for World AIDS Day this year is ” Getting to Zero,” which was developed by the World AIDS Campaign and supported by the United Nations. The “Getting to Zero” campaign runs until 2015 and focuses on the foals of zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.

The NBLCA drafted federal legislation that has languished in Congress for two years:

“NBLCA’s signature legislative proposal is the National Black Clergy for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS Act of 2009, a comprehensive proposal for fighting AIDS in the Black community. This plan resulted from a gathering in 2007 organized by NBLCA that brought together leaders from all over the country including prominent members of the clergy such as Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, and Bishop T.D, Jakes, Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, as well as representatives of the National Medical Association, the National Caucus of Black State Legislators, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust, the National Conference of Black Mayors, the World Conference of Mayors.

The proposal was introduced as legislation in 2009 as H.R. 1964 by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and in 2010 as S. 3011 by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Among other measures, the legislation:

• Calls for voluntary, routine HIV testing as part of all health exams, including in emergency rooms, clinics and private physician offices.

• Calls upon the president to declare HIV/AIDS an epidemic in the black community;

• Directs the federal department of Health and Human Services to make grants to public health agencies and faith-based organizations to conduct outreach programs for HIV/AIDS testing and prevention;

• Directs the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to expand and intensify educational activities targeting black women, youth and men having sex with men;

• Mandates a national media outreach program to urge testing for HIV and AIDS; and

• Requires a study of biological and behavioral factors that lead to higher rates of HIV and AIDS among Black Americans.”

What do you think should be done about AIDS/HIV in the black community? Leave a comment.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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