Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that nearly half (46 percent) of the new cases of HIV/AIDS are African-Americans. Of the new cases reported, more than 70 percent are caused by individuals who do not know their HIV status.
A recent report titled "Passing the Test: The Challenges and Opportunities of HIV Testing in Black America" identifies four factors that hinder progress in controlling the disease. Those factors include: the stigma of being harmed if test results are positive; testing as a part of medical exams is not routine; the continued requirement of written consent in many states; and the failure of effective marketing efforts to promote testing.
Starting today -- World AIDS Day -- and ending Sunday, Dec. 6, every person in Augusta will have multiple opportunities to become educated regarding this issue; to show support for individuals who have HIV or AIDS; and to be an advocate for addressing this public health concern. I encourage everyone to participate in activities that have been planned by a diverse group of organizations to promote HIV prevention in Augusta.
As academics, advocates and good neighbors, I hope that we will all do our parts personally and professionally to eradicate this horrific disease in our community. A call to action includes educating oneself, protecting yourself and praying for all who have been touched by HIV/AIDS.
I join with all leaders who understand how important it is to raise awareness about this disease and to support prevention efforts.
Knowing your HIV status is a right and responsibility. Knowing your partner's HIV status can save your life. I have been tested. Have you?
Dr. George C. Bradley
(The writer is president of Paine College in Augusta.)