The alarming rate of AIDS in Oakland

May 9, 2008 7:26:41 PM PDT
The number of AIDS cases among African Americans living in Oakland is much higher than the rest of the population.

The situation is so serious, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to Oakland to talk about the problem and ways to begin fixing it.

The rate of HIV among black men is nearly seven times higher than that of white men. African American women are at risk 20 times higher than of white women.

The stats are from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC.

"We are not closing that gap, especially for African American men, the gap is widening," said Dr. Julie Gerberding from the CDC.

Gerberding came to Oakland to participate in a community panel discussion led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

"We have a pandemic here that is disproportionately impacting communities of color as it is in Sub-Saharan Africa," said Lee.

The director of the CDC admits the scientific community is unable to solve this problem; meaning a vaccine has not been discovered. That's why Dr. Gerberding says researchers and advocates have to come up with programs targeted specifically to African Americans.

"What works for men in prison is not the same thing that is going to work for women in rural Georgia. We have to find targeted solutions," said Dr. Gerberding.

A push to screen more African Americans seems to be working, and a bus takes people to get tested six days a week.

"We go all over Alameda county and do HIV testing where some of the clients would not go to their provider they would rather come to us to get the HIV test," said Sonya Richey from California Prevention and Education Program.

Some wait only 20 minutes for their results.

"I just wanted to know. A lot of stuff just flirting around here that a lot of people should know about and I feel it's better to know," said Oakland resident Stevin Wilson.

"What were your results?" asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

"Negative," said Wilson.

"I believe we are going to turn the corner in a year because we have been doing "Get screened Oakland" for that last year, we have more people testing, people are understanding how important it is to get tested and this year we are going to get more people out this year than we did last year," said Dr. Marsha Martin from Get Screened Oakland.


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