*America has been taken by storm of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that started in 1981. Since then, 25 million people have died from this disease in America and the casualties are growing. On June 5th, HIV/AIDS was embarked on by America as the 30th anniversary of the disease occurred and leading the way was the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA).
Founded in 1987, the NBLCA is the oldest and largest organization dealing with HIV/AIDS policy for the Black community and urban community led by President and CEO, C. Virginia Fields.
“NBLCA is going into its 25th year in community mobilization and educating the black community of the disease,” said Fields. She continued that the NBLCA is trying to give the black community a major focus on the disease to enhance the understanding of how HIV/AIDS can affect an individual.
While many positive steps have been made in recent years towards finding a cure, the fact remains that many are still suffering. African Americans are overwhelmingly affected by HIV/AIDS, consisting of more than half of all cases. With this disease being the main cause of African American women casualties, and the funding and support to care these women have been cutback in several states, which would prevent many low-income individuals with the illness from being able to obtain medication.
Fields approach to these actions was appalling to her. According to the NBLCA, she stated:
“As a former elected official who participated in local and state budgetary negotiations for almost two decades, I know that budgets reflect choices and priorities. It is indefensible that over 8,000 Americans are forced to forgo their medications because the powers that be in state governments do not see them as priorities.”
As the NBLCA continues to educate, support for prevention, treatment, and care of HIV/AIDS, it also seeks help to which will convene policymakers, medical experts, business leaders, media and others to urge increased attention to HIV/AIDS in the Black community as the NBLCA hosted their Choose Life Awards Benefit and Reception in New York City on June 9th.
They inducted leaders and corporations who have contributed greatly to the fight against AIDS into the Hall of Hope and Remembrance. Inductees were
Arthur Ashe (in memoriam), Sports Icon
Dennis DeLeon (in memoriam), Founding President, Latino Commission on AIDS
Catrise L. Austin, DDS, Founder, Dentist and Health Expert, VIP Smiles Dentistry
Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010/AIDS Activist
Debra Fraser-Howze, Founding President, NBLCA, Senior Vice President, Government and External Affairs, OraSure Technologies, Inc.
Merck, Healthcare Visionaries
Reginald Van Lee, Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
Sheila C. Johnson, a founding partner of Black Entertainment Television (BET), internationally renowned entrepreneur, philanthropist and humanitarian, Chief Executive Officer of Salamander Hospitality and producer of films and documentaries, including the highly-acclaimed film, The Other City, which focused on Washington, DC’s HIV/AIDS crisis.
“We are pleased to recognize the steadfast leadership of this year’s honorees in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Fields.
Future projects, the NBLCA also has launched a campaign entitled, ’30Years Strong! Together We Will Win!’ to raise awareness about AIDS’ devastating and disproportionate toll on African Americans, to renew the push for prevention, testing and treatment, and to reinvigorate efforts to find a cure.
For more information on the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, visit www.nblca.org.