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Nation's oldest Black HIV/AIDS organization launches Engagement For Action tour

NEW YORK CITY (July 1, 2011) - As the nation sadly marked the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus last month, the nation's oldest Black HIV/AIDS organization launched a new educational video that is intended as a resource to reinvigorate and step up efforts to address the deadly disease's highly disproportionate toll on African-American women.

The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA), in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc., has released "Many Women, One Voice: African American Women and HIV." The video features women from across the country and from all walks of life speaking openly and candidly, sharing their personal stories, experiences and broad knowledge. It aims to inspire women to take care of themselves, to protect one another and to make a difference in their communities. The video also aims to educate and mobilize - everyone from individuals to organizations, from schools to faith communities, from the news media to policy makers.

A kick-off preview screening of the video was held June 9 at NBLCA's Choose Life and Annual Hall of Hope and Remembrance Benefit Reception. The video will be rolled out across the country in an Southern Women Matter! Engagement for Action Tour. (More information about those events are below.)

C. Virginia Fields, President and CEO of the NBLCA, explained that the video is a response to the fact that HIV/AIDS continues to be one of the greatest health crises facing African Americans today. Black Americans make up 12 percent of the population and almost half of new HIV and AIDS cases, according to the latest epidemiological data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The toll on African-American women is even more disproportionate; Black women account for 61 percent of new HIV infections and 66 percent of new AIDS cases among all women. HIV is the third leading cause of death for Black women of child-bearing age, 24-44 years.

"This is a travesty that we cannot continue to ignore," Fields said. "The prevention, treatment and care needs of women, Black women in particular, continue to be largely ignored in the nation's response to addressing the epidemic. Far too often, women are left out of key public policy and resource allocation decisions that directly affect their lives. This video is a new weapon in our arsenal to bring increased attention to the impact on women."

Among the women featured in the video is Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who addresses the important role of legislators and other key officials. "I want the history books to record that African-American women were on the front lines beating the drum to stamp out HIV and AIDS from the face of the earth," Lee said.

Added Dazon Dixon Diallo, Executive Director, SistaLove, Inc., an Atlanta-based, womencentered community organization focused on HIV/AIDS: "I hear so many, 'It's not about me' stories, but it is about me, and it is about you. It is about your own strength, power and ability to negotiate your own safety and to be self-determining in your own life."

Highlights of the Southern Women Matter! Engagement for Action Tour will include:

  • July 23: NBLCA, in partnership with the Decatur/Dekalb and Metro Atlanta Chapters of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Emory University, SistaLove and other partners will showcase a Southern Women Matter! public screening of the video in the South, to give special attention to the challenges facing women in the state of Georgia, which has one of the highest AIDS rates of in the country. This will be one in a series of stops made throughout the South. Plans are underway for screenings in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and other high-risk communities where women continue to be disproportionately affected.

  • August 8-10, Women and Girls Sexual Health Summit: NBLCA, in collaboration with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), Office on Women's Health (OWH) and the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health will convene a two-day event entitled "Women and Girls Sexual Health Summit: Developing Strategies and Planning for Action" in Washington, D.C. The meeting will bring together sexual health experts from across the public health spectrum, including substance abuse, mental health, corrections, education, housing and violence to develop recommendations and an action plan for health departments and their community partners to increase sexual health awareness activities for 2011-2012. A screening of the video will be held at the summit.
  • Other events are in the planning process, including a series of discussion forums and video screenings that will be co-hosted with several of the participating organizations featured in the video and other national and local partners, including the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Advocates for Youth, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Southern Christian Leadership Foundation, Women Organized to Fight Life-Threatening Disease (WORLD), Positive Women's Network and women living with HIV/AIDS. These efforts are intended to expand the national conversation on HIV/AIDS to different regions of the country.

    Anyone wanting to participate in the Engagement for Action Tour or to book a local video screening and discussion in your community, can contact Athena Moore at amoore@nblca.org or 212-614-2086.

    For more information, visit www.nblca.org. To secure interviews with C. Virginia Fields, please use the contact information at the top of this press release.

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    National Black Leadership Commission On HIV/AIDS
    The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.'s (NBLCA) mission is to educate, mobilize, and empower Black leaders, including clergy, elected officials, medical practitioners, business professionals, social policy experts, and the media, to meet the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in their local communities. The NBLCA, founded in November 1987, is the oldest and largest not-for-profit organization of its kind in the United States. The NBLCA conducts policy, research and advocacy on HIV/AIDS and other health disparities to ensure effective participation of our leadership in all policy and resource allocation decisions impacting communities of African descent nationwide. The NBLCA has established affiliates in cities where African-American communities are hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including New York City, Nassau County (LI, NY), Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa, and Washington, D.C. www.nblca.org

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    CONTACT:
    Dan Holly
    Jerry Thomas Public Relations
    (919) 448-8221
    dan@jerrythomaspr.com

    Jerry Thomas
    Thomas Public Relations
    (312) 285-5166
    jerry@jerrythomaspr.com


    "Reproduced with permission - National Black Leadership Commission On HIV/AIDS "

    National Black Leadership Commission On HIV/AIDS
    www.nblca.org


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