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Archive for October, 2008

AIDS Questions

Posted by pozlife on October 29, 2008

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It’s Time to Demand Respect for Black People With HIV, Activist DeclaresIn an Impassioned Speech, Sheryl Lee Ralph Implores the Media to “Do Something Different”

Posted by pozlife on October 3, 2008

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On Aug. 4, a panel of African-American HIV community leaders held an emotional press conference in which they expressed frustration and anger about the lack of attention being paid to the HIV epidemic among U.S. blacks. Sheryl Lee Ralph, an actress and long-time HIV activist, was one of those who spoke. Here is the text of her speech. (You can also click here to read or hear TheBody.com’s interview with Ralph.)

Sheryl Lee Ralph
Sheryl Lee Ralph

I thank everybody sitting up here today. I thank them all for the kind of work that they have been doing for so long. But to all of you sitting out there who have the power of the pen, to everybody out there who is going to write a story, to everybody out there who is going to push a button and send a message out into cyberspace: I need you to do something different! It cannot be business as usual when it comes to black people and AIDS, black people and AIDS in America, black people and AIDS around the world! Something must be done differently. Because, if you sprechen sie Deutsches, AIDS is a problem. ¿Usted habla español? El SIDA es una problema. Vous parlez français? Le SIDA est un problème. You speak English? AIDS is a problem. And I want you to deal up front and in your stories about the “ism.” Because “ism” is playing a big part in what has happened, what does not happen, and what will not happen in the future if we don’t do something different.

I had a moment. I spoke with Senator Hillary Clinton. And I said, “Senator, what about AIDS in America?” She stopped what she was doing. She turned to me and she said, “If AIDS were affecting the general population the way it is affecting women of color, black women especially, there would be a national health emergency.” That was two years ago. Two days ago, the report came out from the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that the numbers of AIDS, as it had been calculated in black America, are far more than they expected. When will the national emergency take place? When will somebody get truly outraged? When is somebody going to value black people?

I’m not a charity case. I’m not a poverty case. I’m not looking for a handout. I am looking to be valued as a full, complete, human being, whether I am on the continent of Africa, whether I’m on the hills in Japan, whether I am in Hawaii, whether I am in the mountains of Central America. If I am Negro, Cimarron, I want to be valued as a human being. [in accented English] I want you to listen to me when I talk to you and I have an accent. I want you to know that I am important, just like you. [ends accented English] I want you to look at black me and stop looking past me. Stop looking around me. I need a seat at the table. I need a seat at the table! [applause]

Stop writing policy for me, and you haven’t really talked to me. Stop telling me what I need to be doing, and you don’t know me. So if you have got the power of the pen, you’re going to push that button into the Internet; I need you to write and do something different. Because I am black. I am in the world. And I matter just like anybody else. [applause]

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Top African-American HIV Activist Calls for “National AIDS Strategy” in United StatesPernessa Seele Asks: Why Does the United States Seem to Care More About Africans Than Its Own Citizens?

Posted by pozlife on October 3, 2008

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On Aug. 4, a panel of African-American HIV community leaders held an emotional press conference in which they expressed frustration and anger about the lack of attention being paid to the HIV epidemic among U.S. blacks. Pernessa Seele, the head of the HIV organization The Balm in Gilead, was one of those who spoke. Here is the text of her speech. (You can also click here to read or hear TheBody.com’s interview with Seele.)

Pernessa Seele
Pernessa Seele

Welcome to all of you. It’s always good to be with my colleagues up here on the dais. As the CEO and founder of The Balm in Gilead, an organization working both in Africa and in black America — specifically, working in Tanzania and in black America — I am very happy. Very honored, and very happy, of my government’s response to black people in Africa. But I am very disgusted and very frustrated of my government’s response to AIDS among its own citizens.

In Tanzania, The Balm in Gilead is a vital component of a comprehensive plan to effectively address HIV/AIDS. A vital component. We come together every week — government, civil societies, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] — working to make sure that plan is implemented, funded by my government. And yet, in black America there is no plan. In Tanzania, 65 percent of the teenagers are HIV positive, and my government is doing something about it. In the United States, among all teenagers with HIV and AIDS, 65 percent are African-American teens, and my government is doing very little, if anything, about it.

The U.S. federal effort, in many ways, is a patchwork, not well coordinated and not accountable for making steady progress and bringing down the incidence, increasing access to care, or reducing racial disparities in the epidemic, as it is in Tanzania and other countries, as you know. One essential element in building a more effective domestic response to HIV/AIDS is the implementation of a true, national AIDS strategy. The national AIDS plans of the past have often lacked clear objectives or accountability mechanisms, and they often did not coordinate work across federal agencies, as they do in Tanzania.

We need a national AIDS strategy that focuses on all our governments, health care providers and communities, on achieving steadily improved results, as they do in Tanzania. Over the last year, support for a creation of a national AIDS strategy in the U.S. has been gaining momentum. Over 250 organizations and hundreds of individuals are endorsing a call to action of a national AIDS strategy. That call to action outlines several principles necessary to creating a strategy that can make a real impact, like it is doing in Tanzania.

An effective national AIDS strategy will require presidential leadership, a top-level commitment to making progress in the response to AIDS at home, in black America, as it is doing in Tanzania. We have the tools in hand in the U.S. in black America to significantly bring down the rates of new HIV infections, increase access to lifesaving care, and reduce racial disparities. A comprehensive, result-oriented national AIDS strategy can help us make steady progress in addressing the AIDS epidemic at home, as it is doing in Tanzania.

The African-American faith community, which The Balm in Gilead represents, is calling on our president, members of U.S. Congress, health care providers, all of America, and specifically, all of black America, to stand up and to support an effective national AIDS strategy in the United States. Thank you.

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AIDS 2008 Newsroom

Posted by pozlife on October 3, 2008

This newsroom only contains news, viewpoints and first-person stories from AIDS 2008; for in-depth coverage of key research presented at the conference, visit our AIDS 2008 home page on The Body PRO.

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