I Know' How to Rally Young Blacks
- USA Today (03.04.10): Steve Sternberg
In an event being Webcast from Clark Atlanta University to students nationwide, CDC today is launching its "i know" campaign, an outreach using social media to deliver HIV prevention messages to young African Americans. "We're trying to create a movement," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. CDC hopes the effort will transform young black Americans from passive consumers of HIV prevention messages into vocal advocates who will spread the word to others. Toward this goal, "i know" is using Facebook, Twitter, text messages, and a Web site. Celebrities allied with the effort include actor Jamie Foxx and recording star Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.
Among Americans ages 13 to 29, blacks represent just 14 percent of the population but half of new HIV infections. In this same age group, black men who have sex with men account for 55 percent of infections among African Americans, according to CDC. And yet due to the misperception that effective treatments have solved the AIDS crisis, widespread complacency is a major challenge confronting prevention efforts. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the proportion of young blacks who say they are concerned about HIV fell from 50 percent in 1997 to 40 percent in 2009. "I know" is part of the five-year, $45 million "Act Against AIDS" initiative announced last year at the White House. CDC's Robert Bailey II said AAA's mission is to "refocus attention on the HIV epidemic here at home" after years of addressing it globally. For more information, visit www.actagainstaids.org
S. Alex Williams