Atlanta, GA – October 20, 2009 – In 2007 alone, 21,755 Blacks tested positive for HIV in the United States. Over the past 10 years, almost 200,000 Blacks have tested positive for HIV in the United States. Given these alarming rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the lead federal agency responsible for preventing diseases, continues to underdevelop and underfund HIV prevention in Black America.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national community mobilization HIV testing and treatment effort designed to encourage Blacks in the United States and US Territorial Areas to get educated, get tested, get treated, and get involved is going into its 10th year. This is the nation’s largest single community mobilization for Blacks in America. The CDC has dropped the ball for providing support and funding to organizations at a capacity needed to effectively stem the tide of HIV in Black communities.
“In order for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010 to be effective, we need almost $250,000 to support materials development, information dissemination, website and national media marketing efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes itself as a partner, but fails to live up to the true meaning of partnership and support.” says LaMont “Montee” Evans, Chief Executive Officer, Healthy Black Communities, Inc. – lead organization for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010. When NBHAAD first began in 1999, the CDC provided almost $500,000 annually for organization support, creation and dissemination of materials, website development, and capacity building. Hence 10 years later, the CDC has failed to fully fund and support NBHAAD, an HIV prevention initiative that works.
To add insult to injury, Healthy Black Communities, Inc. submitted a proposal to the CDC to mobilize Black communities in the USA. The organization received a site visit from federal officials (an indication that the organization’s proposal scored high and was found favorable by peer reviewers), but was denied funding. When the organization requested reasoning as to why it was not funded, a technical review with fabricated lies and information was provided (see Freedom of Information Request Act #09-01212-FOIA at www2a.cdc.gov/od/foiastatus). President Obama called for federal agencies to be transparent and expedient in responding to FOIA requests, yet the CDC has not responded yet. The HBC, Inc., CEO mailed a letter to CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Director Dr. Jonathan Mermin regarding the gross negligence of staff to represent the information provided during the site visit, but only received a form letter response, an unacceptable act in an age of technology. This funding would have provided jobs and assisted in mobilizing Blacks in the United States to access and utilize HIV prevention services, as President Obama’s National AIDS Strategy attempts to do.
Is this intentional? Does the CDC leadership not recognize the importance and value of supporting those organizations that have worked in Black communities since the epidemic began?
“H1N1 broke out in April 2009 and the CDC found millions of dollars overnight to develop a vaccine and respond. More than 232,000 Blacks have died from AIDS since 1981 and the CDC has not mobilized even half of the effort it did in response to H1N1. Has the CDC regarded Black life in America as disposable?” says Evans.
Healthy Black Communities, Inc., the lead organization for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010 has worked tirelessly year after year to mobilize resources needed from both public and private partnerships, including the CDC. The organization is calling on Blacks in America and those public and private institutions concerned with preventing HIV in Black America to go to www.hbc-inc.org/cdcdebacle.html and demand CDC to fund the grant proposal at 100% and visit www.blackaidsday.org/cdcsupport.html and demand CDC to provide 100% support for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010.
To follow CDC’s response, please visit the websites aforementioned. Also, individuals are encouraged to download letters from the websites and fax them to their Congress members as well as U.S. Representative Dave Obey, Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairman and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee Chairman.
(source of press release: facebook group National Black HIV/Awareness Day 2010)
affrodite.net– February 7, 2009 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
JENESIS Magazine (July 2009)– “Exceeding an epidemic” about AIDS epidemic in DC and effect in the black community
National Black HIV/AIDS Day 2010 website– www.blackaidsday.org
US Dept of Health and Human Services– National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day