Suffolk County Joins Nationwide Response To AIDS Crisis Among African Americans
February 14, 2013
“Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Treated and Get Involved with HIV/AIDS”
(Long Island, NY) Suffolk County will join more than 300 national organizations that will promote programs in February calling attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS in the country’s African American communities and seeking solutions to halt the epidemic.
County Executive Steve Bellone spoke of the importance of this cause, and highlighted his partnership with a number of Suffolk community-based organizations, such as the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the Urban League of Long Island Young Professionals.
“Working with our community partners in education and prevention, we aim to encourage community awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Bellone said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans comprised 14 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009. The CDC also cites HIV as the ninth leading cause of death for all blacks and the third leading cause of death for black women and men between the ages of 35 and 44.
Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner of Health Services, spoke of the new, free HIV testing programs offered by Suffolk County.
“People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for years and may not know they are infected,” he said. “An HIV test is the only way to find out if you have HIV, so we encourage our residents to take advantage of the free testing we are offering.”
Dr. Gregson Pigott, Director of the Office of Minority Health cited the New York State HIV/AIDS Surveillance Annual Report to illustrate how serious the disease can be in the African American community.
“The rate of newly diagnosed cases of AIDS in Nassau and Suffolk is 15.5 times higher for blacks than it is for whites,” he said. “And though blacks make up only 7.4 percent of population in Suffolk County and 11.1 percent of the population in Nassau County, they account for 31 percent of those newly diagnosed with HIV on Long Island. This is clearly an issue our community must address.”
For more information call the Office of Minority Health at 631-854-0378.