Resolving to stop the spread of HIV, local Black leaders will host a forum Sunday, Oct. 22 to engage community members in the fight against a disease that disproportionately impacts them.
Titled "HIV in Seattle's Black Community — A Call for Leadership NOW!" the forum will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center's Multipurpose Room. The free event is open to the public; additional information is available on the Web at www.metrokc.gov/health/apu/blc.
African Americans and foreign-born Blacks make up 22 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases in King County, yet only represent 6.5 percent of the population. Nationally, 68 percent of all women infected with HIV are Black, and African Americans represent half of all new cases.
"Until we have a vaccine or a cure for HIV, prevention is our best plan of action," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "I commend our local leaders for owning the growing problem of HIV in the African American community and stepping up to work for a lasting solution.
"Ending this epidemic requires a community-wide response based on knowledge, action and compassion," Sims added.
• Hear Dr. Maxine Hayes, M.D., Washington state health officer, discuss how HIV disproportionately impacts the health of African Americans in King County.
• Learn the importance of knowing your HIV status and how easy it is to get tested. People of Color Against AIDS Network will provide free testing after the event to all who want it.
• Join with others in making personal pledges of what they will individually do to stop HIV in Seattle's African American community.
This event will also serve as the formal launch for the Black Leadership Council on HIV, a group committed to creating, nurturing and sustaining leadership and action within the African American community to stop the spread of HIV among African Americans in King County.
"HIV/AIDS is one of those things that a lot of young people and parents have very little knowledge of. Straight men have difficulty speaking about this issue," said Reco Bembry, executive director of the National Youth Congress and member of the Black Leadership Council steering committee.
"I think it's really important that African American men step up to the plate and start having conversations about this so we can protect our families and young people from something that is totally preventable."
"If we don't understand we are part of the problem, then we can't be part of the solution. But when you own it, you have to fix it. This is what the Black Leadership Council is all about," said Jackie Moscou, artistic director of the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center and member of the Black Leadership Council steering committee.
"We can do this! Black people have come through a lot and we can come through this, too," Moscou added.
Members of the Black Leadership Council steering committee include:
• Reco Bembry, executive director, National Youth Congress;
• James Griffin, community activist;
• Jacqueline (Jackie) Moscou, artistic director, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center;
• Madeline Brooks, member, HIV/AIDS Planning Council;
• The Rev. Harriett Walden, Mothers for Police Accountability;
• Carole Crowder-King, MSN, ARNP, women's health care specialist, Group Health Cooperative; and
• Kiantha Duncan-Woods, executive director, Seattle Black Pride.
The Black Leadership Council on HIV is staffed by the HIV/AIDS Program at Public Health-Seattle & King County.
For more information about the Black Leadership Council, visit www.metro kc.gov/health/apu/blc.