Press Room

February 28, 2005

Category: HIV & AIDS

HRC Calls for Increased HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care as Infection Rates Double Among African America

'Comprehensive, science-based education and protection are a key to winning this battle,' said HRC's Winnie Stachelberg.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign renewed its call for increased prevention efforts following alarming news that the HIV infection rate among blacks in the United States has doubled over a decade while holding steady among whites. The new statistics are from the newly released research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compiled from the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys.

"Comprehensive, science-based education and protection are a key to winning this battle," said Winnie Stachelberg, vice president of the HRC Foundation. "Until our leaders aggressively fund and support comprehensive and culturally competent education, infection rates will continue to climb."

During the State of the Union address earlier this month, the president spoke of his support for the Ryan White CARE Act, which helps provide medical care and treatment for people living with HIV, including gay men. The president went on to speak about the importance of preventing further spread of the disease among communities that are at particular risk for HIV/AIDS.

"While we welcomed the president's support, we are deeply troubled that his budget request flat-funded the Ryan White CARE Act, almost half of whose clients are African-American, cut funding for the Office of Minority Health and flat-funded the multi-faceted Minority HIV/AIDS initiative," said Stachelberg. "We ask Congress to reverse these cuts through the appropriations process. This new data should be a wake-up call to our nation's leaders that this problem is getting worse and we need to address it quickly with meaningful care and culturally competent education."

The CDC research also showed that nearly half of all HIV-infected people in the United States who should be on medications for the virus are not getting them. Proper care and treatment also play a critical role in prevention.

Longstanding CDC data has shown that AIDS is the leading cause of death in this country for blacks age 25-44. In 2003, the latest year that data is available for, the Health Resources and Services Administration showed that 30 percent of black males with HIV infection had acquired it through injection drug use.

"The administration must be prepared to take all logical and reasonable steps to curb HIV infection rates in the African-American community, including needle exchange programs that have proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV," said Stachelberg.