Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-9) on Friday, May 9 hosted a panel discussion – titled “From Prevention to Policy: Responses to HIV/AIDS in the African-American Community” – at the West Oakland Senior Center to assess the expanding the reach of HIV prevention services and programs, increasing opportunities for HIV diagnosis and treatment, developing new and effective interventions and mobilizing the community to combat this epidemic in the 9th Congressional District and the Bay Area.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), served as the guest speaker, discussing ongoing efforts by the CDC to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 9th Congressional District. Dr. Gerberding is a physician and an expert in infectious diseases. For over 60 years, the Atlanta-based CDC has been dedicated to protecting health and promoting quality of life through the prevention and control of disease, injury and disability.
In 1998, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency in response to the startling increase of HIV/AIDS-related cases in the region. Congresswoman Lee immediately responded to the emergency by securing federal resources to help combat the disease that has reached epidemic proportions in African-American communities throughout her 9th Congressional District.
As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on Global HIV/AIDS, Congresswoman Lee has introduced, negotiated or co-authored several pieces of legislation during the 110th Congress to battle this disease.
“AIDS is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” Congresswoman Lee said. “It is literally killing millions of people and crippling global economies. The impact of HIV/AIDS on African Americans in the United States is extremely alarming. While the number of new diagnoses for virtually every segment of the population is declining, it is rapidly increasing for African Americans.”
This panel discussion was part of Congresswoman Lee’s ongoing effort to bring public health leaders and the community together to address this public health crisis. Last year, legendary rock star Bono and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums joined the congresswoman in bringing attention to this epidemic in her 9th Congressional District.
Several experts from a variety of HIV/AIDS prevention or advocacy organizations from throughout the Bay Area participated in the panel discussion, including Dr. Eric Goosby, director of the PANGEA Global AIDS Foundation; Thomas Lorentzen, director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Ron Kabir Hypolite, director of the Alameda County Office of AIDS.
Free on-site health screenings will be provided by the Healthy Oakland Preventative Care Pathways van. Free HIV/AIDS testing provided will be conducted by Cal-Pep, and hyper-allergenic pillow cases and sheets will be distributed for free. Members of the Bay Area Black Nurses Association assisted with the on-site health screenings.