Conference on Eve of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Seeks To Shape New Strategies for Stopping HIV/AIDS Surge Among Blacks in Massachusetts

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On Friday, February 6th, the eve of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Boston-based Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC) will host "Black Communities & HIV" - the first of a four-part Black HIV/AIDS Conference Series developed to highlight local HIV disparities and explore the infrastructure for slowing the surge of HIV among Blacks in the state.

It is time for a critical look at how well HIV/AIDS services are meeting the needs of Black residents

The face of HIV/AIDS has shifted dramatically over the past 25 years, evolving from what was once considered a disease affecting only gay white men, into a major public health crisis within communities of color. In Massachusetts, Black and Latino residents are only 12% of the state's population, yet now account for over 50% of all persons living with HIV. A majority of new infections each year are among people of color, with many having delayed testing long enough to already have progressed to later stages of the disease. Among women, roughly 70% of all cases are Black and Latina residents. These statistics are similar to Black communities throughout the nation.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an annual occasion designed to encourage Black Americans to get tested and know their HIV status. On the day before, Friday, February 6th, from 8:30 a.m. -5:00 p.m. at the Copley Marriott hotel, the Boston-based Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC) will host "Black Communities & HIV" - the first of a four-part Black HIV/AIDS Conference Series developed to highlight local HIV disparities and explore the infrastructure for slowing the surge of HIV among Blacks in the state.

"It is time for a critical look at how well HIV/AIDS services are meeting the needs of Black residents," said Gary Daffin, Executive Director of MAC. "Massachusetts has always been at the vanguard of high quality HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Our goal is to continue that tradition by examining our strengths and weaknesses in fighting HIV in Black communities across the state."

Major sponsors of the conference are the state Dept. of Public Health's Infectious Disease bureau, the Boston Public Health Commission's 'State of Emergency' initiative, and Fenway Health. Speakers include state Commissioner of Public Health, John Auerbach; Boston's chief medical officer Dr. Nancy Norman; Dr. Valerie Stone of Mass. General Hospital; Georgia Simpson-May, director of the state Office of Health Equity; Dr. Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, director of the doctoral program at Simmons School of Social Work; Harold Cox, Associate Dean at Boston University School of Public Health, and others. Participants are expected from across the state.

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Gary K. Daffin
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