Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
February 19, 1998


African-Americans are now more than eight times as likely as white Americans to become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. African-Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, yet make up 45% of total AIDS cases.

AIDS is the leading killer of African-American men and the second leading killer of African-American women between the ages of 25-44. And compared to white men, women and African-Americans are less likely to receive therapy recommended by current anti-HIV treatment guidelines, and are more likely to be treated later in the course of the disease.
The National Conference on African-Americans and AIDS, to be held on Feb. 25-26 in Washington, D.C., will be the first national forum to focus specifically on HIV/AIDS in the African-American community.

The conference is co-sponsored by Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, Institute for Minority Health Research; the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; the Harvard AIDS Institute; Howard University; the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland; and the Department of Health and Human Services and funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb Immunology. The conference will include a group of experts from the public health, government, medical and AIDS service communities.

Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Minority Health Research in Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, is a member of the conference planning committee. He will deliver the luncheon keynote address titled "Tuskegee: From Science to Conspiracy to Metaphor," on Thursday, February 25. In 1997, Dr. Thomas represented Emory University at the White House for the Presidential Apology for the Study at Tuskegee. Additionally, Dr. Thomas is providing leadership on the national campaign called Closing the Gap: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health by the Year 2010.

"Stopping the spread of AIDS in the African-American community is a moral and political challenge no less important than overcoming the scientific hurdles," Dr. Thomas said. "It is tragic that a totally preventable disease like AIDS continues to spread illness and death, especially among African-American and Hispanic children."

According to the Georgia State Department of Health, African-Americans account for approximately 30% of the state population, yet make up 60% of reported AIDS cases since 1981.
"African-Americans continue to be directly in the path of the AIDS epidemic and it must be a priority to do all we can to prevent further infections and ensure that people with HIV disease receive the best medical care available," said Dr. Thomas.

Other conference participants will include: Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services; Eric Goosby, M.D., director, Office of HIV/AIDS Policy, Department of Health and Human Services; Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Wafaa El-Sadr, M.D., M.P.H., director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Columbia University School of Medicine.

The conference will address a wide range of issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS in African-Americans, including the disconnect between American healthcare and the African-American community, drug abuse and its connection to the epidemic, HIV in women, new approaches to therapy and national initiatives and their impact on the African-American community.

Information about the conference, including a live conference webcast, will be posted on the website of the Institute for Minority Health Research at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health:


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