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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
KANSAS: African-American Activists Create Strategy to Beat
Christina M. Woods
August 23, 2005
Wichita Eagle (08.21.05) - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

On Saturday at Wichita State University, about 60 people gathered to strategize on fighting AIDS among African Americans. The epidemic's disproportionate impact on African Americans makes openness about the topic all the more important, they said. In Kansas, the state Department of Health and Education reports that black people, who make up just 6 percent of the population, accounted for 26 percent of AIDS diagnoses between 2000 and 2002.

Known as the Sankofa Health Collective, those assembled said they plan to organize and create culturally specific prevention and intervention resources for various age groups. They are also encouraging an atmosphere that exchanges political correctness for honesty.

Participants talked about how movies, music, and other media are encouraging unhealthy sexual behavior. This is in part, they said, a legacy of the slavery era when some black men were used as breeders, some black women as reproducers, and slave auctions tore apart families. They also talked about unconditionally accepting those affected by AIDS as another part of the solution. Beyond discussing black love and sexuality, the group talked about healthy eating, substance abuse, and spiritual growth.

Sandra Trotter, an adult student at the university, said the meeting inspired her to speak to young people about making better sexual choices. "I hope this doesn't just end today," she said.

"Today is just the beginning," said Barbara James, a local attorney who helped organize the event. She said the gathering was intended as a way to create the foundation for a community plan.