NMAC Commemorates National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Contact: Circe LeCompte, Director of Communications Phone: 202.234.5120 x 309
Email: clecompte@nmac.org

NMAC Commemorates National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Today, June 8, 2008

June 8, 2008 – Washington, DC – Today, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) honors the third observance of National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. On this day, Caribbean-Americans, Caribbean immigrants and community-based organizations (CBOs) nationwide will respond to the health disparities facing people of color especially Caribbean immigrants. It will also be a day of reflection and a day to memorialize and show compassion for those who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

“HIV/AIDS continues to have a disproportionate impact in communities of color and Caribbean-American and Caribbean immigrant communities are no exception,” says National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director, Paul Kawata. “We must use this day as an opportunity to increase our awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on Caribbean Americans and Caribbean-born individuals and encourage action in response to the crisis in their communities.”

HIV/AIDS has devastated the Caribbean, which ranks second only to sub-Saharan Africa for AIDS prevalence. In 2006, the United Nations estimated that 19,000 Caribbeans died of AIDS, and that an additional 250,000 were living with the virus. In 2005, there were a reported 38,133 new HIV diagnoses among Caribbean Americans in the U.S.

Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a national mobilization effort designed to encourage Caribbean-American and Caribbean-born individuals, across the United States and its territories, to get educated, get tested, get treated and get involved. It is a day of hope for the future of a Caribbean and Caribbean American community with available preventive health care as a daily part of life and a Caribbean Diaspora free of AIDS.

“It is important to recognize that the collective Caribbean represents as many as thirty different languages, societal norms and stigmas that can become barriers to successful HIV/AIDS messaging,” says Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, NMAC’s Director of Government Relations and Public Policy. “We must be culturally respectful and competent in our approach to prevention, testing, and treatment in order for any interventions to be effective.”

Recognizing the importance of fighting this epidemic in the Caribbean and Caribbean American communities, NMAC has begun a Caribbean Initiative to increase the capacity of HIV/AIDS related CBOs in the Caribbean. In addition, NMAC will host a reception on June 26 to celebrate the leadership by and for the Caribbean. Congresswoman Donna Christensen (D-VI), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Yvette Clark (D-NY), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) have been invited to speak. Ministers of Health from Antigua (Hon. John Maginley), Suriname (Dr. Celsius Waterberg) and Trinidad and Tobago (Hon. Jerry Narace) are also invited to attend, as they will be in Washington, D.C. attending the Pan American Health Organization Executive Committee Meeting.

For details, fact sheets, and more information on what you can do in your community, please visit the National Caribbean American HIVAIDS Awareness Day and the Department of Health and Human Services Caribbean HIv/AIDS Awareness Day.

About NMAC

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) was founded in 1987 to develop leadership within communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS. NMAC has responded to the needs of communities of color by developing programs enhancing the skills necessary to confront this health crisis, including a public policy education program; national and regional training conferences; treatment and research programs and trainings; numerous publications and a website: www.nmac.org. The agency also serves an association of AIDS service organizations, F/CBOs, hospitals, clinics, health departments and other groups assisting people and families living with and affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC’s advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only.