MDCH Announces Michigan's Fifth Annual Black AIDS Awareness Campaign

Contact: James McCurtis (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

February 6, 2009

In an effort to improve the overall health of all Michigan residents, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is debuting its fifth annual Black AIDS Awareness Campaign in February, supporting this year's theme, "Black Life is Worth Saving."

"We cannot ignore that the disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS in Michigan is on African Americans," said MDCH Director Janet Olszewski. "The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to the barriers that face many Black Americans, such as poverty, education and stigma."

The campaign, which began Feb. 1 and continues through March 13, includes the Ninth Annual Observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day on Feb. 7, the Fourth Annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, and the 20th Annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS March 1 through March 7.

MDCH data clearly illustrates the impact of AIDS on African Americans. While representing only 14 percent of Michigan's general population, 57 percent of persons living with HIV/AIDS are African American. The rate of persons living with HIV infection is almost nine times higher among African Americans than among whites in Michigan. MDCH estimates that as many as 1 in 120 African American males and 1 in 320 African American females are living with HIV, with the Detroit Metro Area housing 64 percent of those HIV positive while representing only 44 percent of the general population.

"MDCH continues to work with many community-based agencies and local health departments to implement evidenced-based interventions and HIV prevention programs," said Amna Osman, Director of MDCH's Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control. "By combining education and awareness through this campaign, we hope to reduce the disproportionate impact this epidemic has within the African American community and highlight the need for those at risk to be tested."

Events are planned across Michigan to raise awareness and promote HIV testing among Michigan residents. Health awareness fairs and HIV counseling and testing are among the many events that are included in this campaign. To find an HIV testing site in your area, a planned event, or to obtain additional information on HIV/AIDS, please call the Michigan AIDS Hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS (2437).