According to the CDC, 51 percent of the U.S. population diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2007 was African-American, making it by far the race or ethnicity most heavily plagued by the disease.
That statistic is one that’s prompted local health advocates to combine efforts to address the issue in Cincinnati with a series of monthly town hall meetings focused on evaluating and boosting local HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention efforts, using African-American churches as the main vessel of dissemination.
The town hall meetings and collaboration, according to Mamie Harris, executive director for IV-CHARIS, are intended to provide churches who have pledged to up prevention efforts with a strong, stable set of educational guidelines and information to communicate across the community and their congregations.
On Friday, Aug.
17, Phill Wilson, president and CEO of Black AIDS Institute, a California-based think tank dedicated exclusively to ending the AIDS pandemic in African-American communities, was the keynote speaker at the town hall meeting in the American Red Cross building in Evanston.
The meeting was the third in the series of events jointly coordinated by IV-CHARIS and University of Cincinnati researchers intended to probe and discuss solutions for the HIV/AIDS issue permeating African-American communities across Cincinnati. Harris says the collaborators chose to work with African-American churches because they historically have a strong reputation for sparking community change. The meetings are funded by a grant provided by UC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training, and are expected to last until the grant runs out in February.