Black Leaders Gather For AIDS Plans
24 mai 2000 (AP)
TUSKEGEE, Ala., 24 May 2000 (AP)
By DAVE BRYAN, Associated Press Writer
Many blacks know little about AIDS and HIV because of a deep mistrust of white health care workers that stems partly from the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, black church leaders said Wednesday. About 350 clergy members from around the country met this week to address AIDS in the same town where the study, shut down in 1972, took place. It involved about 400 black men with syphilis who were denied treatment as part of a 40-year study of the disease by the federal government. "It has resulted in a community that is very paranoid about health care and about white doctors," said Pernessa Seele, an AIDS activist who organized the conference at Tuskegee University. "We have to get people into treatment, into care."
AIDS is the number one cause of death for black men and women ages 25 to 44, and one in 50 black men and one in 160 black women are HIV positive, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
Church leaders can help members overcome their mistrust of white doctors by teaching them to ask questions, said the Rev. Debra Hickman, an associate minister at City Temple of Baltimore Baptist Church.
"There’s still a deep-seated mistrust of doctors among members of the black community, especially doctors who don’t look like them," Hickman said. Hickman started a program in Baltimore in which black church members and public health workers visit poor urban areas on weekday evenings to offer free health care testing.
The conference comes about a week after the release of a study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that found poor black males’ mistrust of health care givers, especially white male doctors, contributes to a high rate of AIDS in black communities.
Many poor blacks’ only experiences with health care as children came when they were examined in youth detention centers or clinics that treat sexually transmitted diseases, the study found. As a result, many of the study participants associated health care with being in trouble.