Yesterday, people around the country observed National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). In an effort to elevate the conversation around the important issues that this day addresses, GLAAD helped place articles at several media outlets.
At The Huffington Post’s Black Voices section, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, discusses the stigma and silence surrounding HIV/AIDS in the black community that must be dealt with for the sake of health. She writes, “Discussing human sexuality and prevention techniques is not the same as offering an endorsement of or enabling unsafe sexual behaviors. On the contrary, helping our children and church-goers protect themselves is an act of compassion and faith. As parents and clergy, it is our responsibility…Out of love for our people and ourselves, we have to find constructive ways to embrace human sexuality without judgment.”
Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, outlined the organization’s four-part approach to ending AIDS among African Americans on TheGrio. “These paradigm shifts are imperative for every community affected by HIV, but they are especially vital for black communities,” he explained with reference to the forthcoming “State of AIDS in Black America” report. “Black AIDS organizations must become patient navigators, and information translators and disseminators. They must also begin to connect the dots between HIV/AIDS and the overall health disparities in black communities.”
On the GA Voice, AIDS United’s Regional Organizer for the South, Charles Stephens, addresses the growing need for resources to help prevent and raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in this area of the country. Stephens notes, “In the Deep South, 35 percent of all new U.S. infections come from the region, though it makes up just 22 percent of the country's population. Despite these numbers, the region lags behind the rest of the nation in HIV/AIDS funding. Failure to act in an impactful way could lead to a worsening of poor health outcomes for people living with HIV in the South, including death.”
GLAAD’s Communities of African Descent Media Field Strategist, Kimberley McLeod, wrote an op-ed for EBONY.com, highlighting the fact that many have blamed this epidemic on closeted gay and bisexual African American men, rather than examining the high-risk behaviors that occur independently of sexual orientation. “At the end of the day, the only thing blame does is fuel stigma. And stigma kills,” writes Kimberley. “So instead of pointing fingers at who we think is perpetuating the problem, let’s each become a part of the solution. We can start by talking without judgment about testing, treatment and prevention.”
Increasing media coverage of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is part of GLAAD’s ongoing work to recognize and elevate issues of importance to LGBT communities of color. In the coming weeks, GLAAD will continue sharing stories relevant to Black History Month and the LGBT community.