Wichita Eagle (08.18.05) - Friday, August 19, 2005
Saturday at Wichita State University's Hubbard Hall,
organizers of the Sankofa Health Collective are inviting
members of city's black community to discuss the impact of
HIV/AIDS. The free event will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and
lunch will be provided to the first 100 people.
"We're all going to sit down. as men and women and come to
consensus about how we want African-American family wellness
to come together in Wichita," said Barbara James, a local
attorney and conference organizer.
The conversations might be tough, say organizers, but the need
is clear. According to the National Minority AIDS Council,
African Americans make up 13 percent of the nation's
population but account for more AIDS diagnoses, people
believed to be living with AIDS and AIDS-related deaths than
any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. In
Kansas, blacks comprise 6 percent of the state's population
but account for 26 percent of the AIDS cases diagnosed between
2000 and 2002.
According to Marcus Hammond, a bisexual black man, the
community's denial and silence on issues relating to sexuality
must be dealt with. "A lot of heterosexual people think that
black gay people don't exist," he said.
Peggy Franklin-El, founder of the drug and alcohol counseling
program Success Inc., said not enough black women are asking
their partners' about their sexual history. "Until our people
start facing the truth about what's really going on with them
and the things they are consuming and doing to their bodies,"
she said, "nothing is going to change."