UVa Professor Warns Of HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among African Americans

January 24, 2008

A UVa professor asserts that a HIV/AIDS epidemic has reached a state of emergency among African Americans.

"African Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population and now account for nearly half of newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Cato Laurencin of UVa. "“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community has reached a state of emergency and there are signs that it is only intensifying.

Laurencin is Chair of the Board of Directors of the W. Montague Cobb/National Medical Association Health Institute, an organization dedicated to addressing disparities in health among African Americans.

Laurencin was lead author of a report published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association. The study reviewed the current state of HIV/AIDS in African Americans and issued a call for action among clinicians, researchers and the African-American community at large.

African Americans remain disproportionately affected by high rates of HIV/AIDS,” said Laurencin.

According to the report, many factors contribute to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African Americans. Key factors include high-risk sexual contact, substance abuse, socio-economic status, access to healthcare, and undiagnosed HIV.

The report calls for expanded HIV-prevention interventions and the implementation of new, improved and culturally-appropriate HIV/AIDS strategies. It also noted initiatives now underway at the Centers for Disease Control and urged the biomedical community to be a major driving force in the execution and success of new programs for the African American community.

Kathy Baker is Executive Director of the AIDS Services Group in Charlottesville.

She says ASG always applies for special grants to help combat this growing problem right here in our area.

"The African American community right now is in danger of being dessimated by AIDS and HIV if we can't do something to stop the climbing rates of infection in that popoulation," said Baker, "The one thing we know we can do is get out in the community and begin to teach prevention that works."

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