Louisiana forum, a part of AHF’s new national ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ public awareness campaign, takes place during Black History Month. Keynote speaker Reverend Al Sharpton will be followed by a town hall discussion exploring the fact that African Americans & Latinos are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. Local partners include Greater King David Baptist Church & Promise Land Baptist Church.
BATON ROUGE (February 25, 2014) In response to the fact that African American and Latino communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has embarked on a new national “AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue” public awareness campaign intended to highlight this health disparity as well as to emphasize the fact that access to HIV prevention, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS should be universal.
As part of its campaign, AHF has teamed with local Louisiana partners Greater King David Baptist Church, Pastor John E. Montgomery and Promise Land Baptist Church, Pastor Perry Wrights Jr., to host an ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ town hall discussion at Greater King David Baptist Church from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on Friday evening, February 28th. The forum—which also takes place during Black History Month and during the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—is the third in a nationwide series spearheaded by AHF. Reverend Al Sharpton will be keynote speaker followed, by a program featuring a town panel discussion with several respected local community, political, health, religious and HIV/AIDS leaders.
WHAT: ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ TOWN HALL PANEL DISCUSSION
With Keynote Speaker, Rev. Al Sharpton
WHEN: Friday, February 28th, 6:00pm to 9:00pm
WHERE: Greater King David Baptist Church 222 Blount Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70807
WHO: KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Reverend Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Leader
Hon. Melvin ‘Kip’ Holden, Mayor, City of Baton Rouge (introduces Rev. Sharpton)
Johnny Anderson, Church Administrator, Greater King David Baptist Church
Hon. Cleo Fields, Former Congressman, Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District
Pastor John Sanders, Second Baptist Church, Wilton LA
Eugene Collins, STD/HIV Regional Coordinator, Baton Rouge Public Health Department
Hon. C. Denise Marcelle, Metro Councilwoman, District 7, City of Baton Rouge
Dr. Waref Azmeh, Infectious Disease Specialist, AHF/Baton Rouge
Reverend A.J. Johnson, CEO & Founder of Baton Rouge AIDS Society
PANEL DISCUSSION MODERATOR: Michelle McCalope, WAFB-TV9 News Anchor
LOCAL CONTACT: John Reed, AHF Mobilizer, State of Louisiana (817) 896-7559 [email protected]
Currently African Americans account for 44% of all people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, yet only account for 12% of the population. Latinos account for 21% of all new HIV infections nationwide, yet only represent 16% of the U.S. population.
Disproportionately high numbers of HIV/AIDS cases among communities of color may be caused by several factors, including:
- Lack of access to clinics for care and HIV testing.
- High levels of stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in these communities prevent people from learning their HIV status, or from seeking care and speaking honestly with their partners if they know they are positive.
- Both society and the healthcare industry have marginalized members of these communities both on account of sexual orientation and race, blocking essential treatment, care, and education for those who need it.
“Our ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ public awareness campaign is opening dialogue with stakeholders in the community, the public health arena, and faith-based groups as well as public officials about health disparities and the importance of universal access to HIV prevention and care and treatment,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We are honored to have Reverend Sharpton and our esteemed partners in Louisiana lend their voices to this important cause and discussion.”
At an earlier forum of the AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue campaign held in Los Angeles this past Sunday, Reverend Al Sharpton spoke about the importance of overcoming HIV stigma to attain equal access to HIV/AIDS treatment for those in need. From the pulpit at Holman United Methodist Church in the West Adams District of Los Angeles, Sharpton told the rapt, overflow congregation: “Jesus heals the sick. He did not judge the sick,” adding with regard to those leading the Civil Rights Movement during the mid-20th Century: “I’m glad they didn’t judge me before they fought for me.”
AHF’s ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ Billboard Campaign Running Now in Atlanta, Washington, DC; Columbus, OH; Baton Rouge, LA; Jackson, MS; South Florida and Los Angeles
Over the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend in January, AHF launched its innovative national ‘AIDS is a Civil Rights Issue’ billboard campaign. AHF’s billboards are intended to serve as a reminder of the fact that African American and Latino communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS compared with their respective percentages of the overall population. The campaign also hopes to send the message that access to HIV prevention and care and treatment for HIV/AIDS should be a universal human right. The billboard campaign is running now in Atlanta, Washington, DC; Columbus, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi South Florida and in Los Angeles. In most of the cities, the campaign will also be posted as transit shelter ads.
AHF Healthcare Centers in Louisiana & Mississippi
To address some of the health disparities highlighted in the ‘AIDS is a Civil Right Issue” campaign and town hall forum, AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently opened two AHF Healthcare Centers in Southern states: One, in Baton Rouge—AHF Healthcare Center/Baton Rouge, 8281 Goodwood Blvd., Suite D, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, +1 (225) 231-5733; the other, in Jackson, MS—the AHF Healthcare Center/Jackson, 766 Lakeland Dr., Jackson, MS 39216, +1 (877) 470.8071.
Please join us and a multitude of faith-based communities in the South in illuminating and fighting the persisting bias against communities of color as we collectively strive to lower the incidence of HIV/AIDS, and together we can ensure all communities have equal access to the tools we need in this fight.