Social Change is Needed to Control AIDS

By Jesse

Mrs. Sharon Lettman-Hicks (right), Executive Officer of National Black Justice Coalition is seen here with Berkeley City Councilman Darryl Moore.

Fortunately the national response to the AIDS epidemic over the last two decades is being reflected in declines, or leveling off of, the HIV prevalence, and those with the virus are experiencing longer life spans. But alongside the positive overall figures, there are some worrisome statistical trends, and it is clear that some social changes are needed to control AIDS.
We must fight social and structural inequities so that the medical advances we’ve made in the past 30 years to curb HIV and AIDS, can work with maximum efficacy.  Groups are not born vulnerable, but are made vulnerable by societies that marginalize and exploit them.
The Black community has been hit the hardest by the AIDS epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Black women are diagnosed with HIV, 19 times more often than White women. Black gay and bisexual men, ages 13-29, represent more than 25 percent of new infections.       
Mrs. Sharon Lettman-Hicks of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) says, “Being a heterosexual African American has no privilege, at the end of the day, I’m still Black, when I wake up in the morning, I’m still a woman”.  In 2009 Lettman-Hicks became Executive Officer of NBJC, a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Hailing from Maryland, she resides with her husband who is on active duty in Iraq in the United State Air Force.
Since 2003 NBJC has provided leadership advocacy to civil rights groups and LGBT organizations.
Lettman-Hicks, accompanied by Berkeley City Councilman Darryl Moore, visited the services of The City of Refuge UCC Church in San Francisco on Palm Sunday.
In 2000, Moore was elected to the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees, becoming the first openly gay African-American elected to office in the East Bay.  In 2009 he was elected as NBJC’s Board Chair.
The NBJC wants to reduce the rates of new HIV infections. It is known that those with low self- esteem and identity may act out in risky sex behavior. Queer youth have few outlets to turn to, compared to other youth populations. To the congregation where a majority of members are LGBT, Lettman-Hicks, had the members, me included, on their feet, shouting Amen, when she ended saying, “I hope you wake up every day singing, I am special, I am worthy, and if you meet someone, who hasn’t figured that out, you tell them to catch you on the next revolution”.
For questions or comments contact Jesse Brooks @510-575-8245 or email