Late Breaking News
Groups Launch $45 Million 5-Year HIV Awareness Campaign
- Categorized in: May 2009 Issue
WASHINGTON—The White House, Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month announced a new $45 million, five-year national communication campaign aimed at combating complacency about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States.
The campaign, Act Against AIDS, will feature public service announcements and online communications, as well as targeted messages and outreach to the populations most severely affected by HIV/AIDS, beginning with African-Americans. Subsequent phases will focus on Latinos and other communities disproportionately impacted.
As part of the campaign, CDC is also collaborating with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to build widespread support for the campaign among the media and the entertainment industry. “Act Against AIDS seeks to put the HIV crisis back on the national radar screen,” Melody Barnes, assistant to the President and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a written statement. “Our goal is to remind Americans that HIV/AIDS continues to pose a serious health threat in the United States and to encourage them to get the facts they need to take action for themselves and their communities.”
According to the CDC, about 56,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV each year and more than 14,000 people with AIDS die every year.
The initial phase of the Act Against AIDS campaign is called “9 ½ Minutes,” and refers to the fact that someone becomes HIV infected every 9 ½ minutes. The campaign will use a series of video, audio, print and online materials to highlight the severity of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States. As part of the campaign, individuals can go to www.nineandahalfminutes.org to learn how they can help protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The site also provides referrals to HIV prevention and testing services and HIV organizations around the country.
The next phases of the campaign will focus on delivering messages to specific populations at high risk and will first focus on African-Americans who account for just 12 percent of the U.S. population but represent roughly half of new HIV infections andAIDS deaths every year.
While the campaign will focus on the African-American community at large, it will also specifically target its communications to encourage increased HIV testing among gay or bisexual men and women—the two groups of African-Americans most severely affected.
Role of Civic Organizations
To help spread the campaign messages within African-American communities, the administration created the Act Agains AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) in partnership with 14 leading African-American civic organizations. These partner groups will integrate HIV prevention into their organizations’ own outreach programs. The organizations will receive funding through the AAALI and will work with leading community groups to deliver campaign messages and conduct outreach activities.
Mohammad N.Akhter, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of the National MedicalAssociation, an organization representing African-American physicians and one of the organizations participating in theAAALI, said that he believes that the campaign will bring a needed refocus to the HIV epidemic, particularly in the African-American community.
“With this downturn in the economy, when people are worried about so many things—about paying their rent to their employment status to the education of their children—the people on the lower end of the income scale, particularly the people of color, have no time to worry about HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Dr. Akhter noted the funding his organization will receive from the CDC will allow it to hire an HIV/AIDS coordinator who will work with non-medical community-based organizations in the African-American community to increase HIV awareness and HIV testing.
The AAALI’s other participants include: 100 Black Men of America, American Urban Radio Networks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, National Action Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, National Council of Negro Women, National Newspaper Publishers Association, National Organization of Black County Officials, National Urban League, Phi Beta Sigma and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.