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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
KANSAS: Blacks Hope Truth Will Limit HIV's Reach
Christina M. Woods
August 19, 2005
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."