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Clinton expected to announce massive HIV aid for black community

Experts say three out of every seven Americans infected with AIDS are African-American  
October 28, 1998
Web posted at: 11:39 a.m. EST (1639 GMT)

From Reporter Louise Schiavone

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton is expected Wednesday to announce a multi-million dollar initiative to combat HIV and AIDS in the African-American community.

Expected to total more than $100 million, the package is aimed at arresting the spread of AIDS among blacks -- the fastest-growing AIDS population.

The hope is to help those like Elsie Carter, an African-American who has had AIDS for 3 years. She said she's not sure if she was infected through drug use or prostitution.

"To be truthful, I didn't care," she said. "All I wanted was something that was going to make me feel better than what I was feeling, and I was hurting a lot back then."

Though the road to HIV is paved with intravenous drug use and unprotected sex, these issues have been taboo subjects in the African-American culture.

"We have a code of silence and we just don't like to talk about those things," said J. Cornelius Baker of the National Association of People With AIDS. "And the reality is silence equals death."

Intravenous drugs and unprotected sex are still taboo issues in the African-American population  

Some leaders in the African-American community say they believe the rapid spread of AIDS among blacks has created a national health emergency.

"What is most striking about this whole situation is that every hour seven Americans become infected with HIV -- three of those seven Americans are African-Americans," said Dr. Beny Primm of the National Minority AIDS Council.

That is why political pressure has been brought to bear by the congressional black caucus, black doctors and others in the minority AIDS network.

AIDS statistics for blacks contrast sharply with the 47 percent decline in AIDS deaths in the overall population last year.

Leader say access to health care may not be as big an issue as trust in the health care system, sticking to a medical regimen and changing bad habits.

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