AB1142 is first in the nation to address disproportionate impact HIV/AIDS on African Americans
Thursday, February 8, 2006— In observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7), the California African American HIV/AIDS Coalition (CAAHAC) is reminding community leaders, health professionals and politicians that, effective January 1, 2006, Assembly Bill 1142 (AB1142) is now the law. And with the new law implementation to coordinate prevention and service networks throughout the state to increase their capacity to provide HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment information, among other vital resources, will begin.
Sponsored by the CAAHAC (formerly known as the Statewide African American HIV/AIDS Advisory Board) and the California State Conference of the NAACP, AB1142 is the first effort of its kind in the country to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on the African American community in California. California Assembly member representing District 52 Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) authored the landmark legislation.
Dymally said the first specific outreach plans include an education program to assist those who cannot afford to buy the HIV/AIDS medications; an aggressive outreach to churches; and the introduction of legislation allowing the testing of inmates coming out of the prison system and into the general population. Although Dymally declined to give specifics on the costs of implementing AB1142 beyond saying that millions are needed, the fundraising effort has already started through Dymally’s office and the state NAACP.
The funding outreach for AB1142 is critical because language in the bill expressly prohibits the use of state general funds to implement its initiatives, a situation Dymally characterizes as “an outrage.”
HISTORIC HIV/AIDS LEGISLATION BECOMES LAW IN CALIFORNIA
“One of the weaknesses is that there is no money in the bill,”Dymally said.“The state’s budget wasn’t a good budget because of the deficit, even though the Governor found the money to have a special election.”Dymally is referring to the Governor’s ill-fated 2005 special election in which all five of his Propositions were put before the voters at an estimated cost of $80 million.
“The state of California has the sixth-largest economy in the world,” Dymally said.How can we ask victims to help pay for their own malady? That is an outrage."
“This bill is historic and with it borne the creation of a statewide coalition that will galvanize regional efforts to address the disparate burden of HIV/AIDS in the African American population,” said Stephen Simon, co-chair of the new coalition who was also instrumental in crafting the language for the bill.
HIV/AIDS has been one of the largest public health threats in the world for over two decades. Statistics show that in the U.S. and in California, specifically, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects African Americans.
African Americans accounted for 50 percent of all AIDS cases diagnosed in the U.S., yet African Americans make up only 12 percent of the population.
In 2002, AIDS was the leading cause of death among African American women ages 25- 34 and the second leading cause of death for African American men ages 35-44.
In California, as of December 31, 2005 there were 139,449 reported cases of AIDS, of which 24,557 were African Americans. This represents over 18 percent of all AIDS cases, yet African Americans constitute only 7 percent of California’s population.
The creation of the California African American HIV/AIDS Coalition (CAAHAC), formerly known as the Statewide African American HIV/AIDS Advisory Board (SAAHAAB) is integral to implement the components of the bill, according to Azizza David Goines, CAAHAC co-chair.
With plans for the statewide HIV/AIDS outreach to African Americans in five regions ·Vincluding Alameda/San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento/Central Valley, San Bernardino/Riverside, and San Diego-Dymally said the next effort is to establish AB1142 as a 501(c) 3 and begin a comprehensive effort to secure funds from other state efforts, independent resources and national and state foundations. Despite this barrier, fundraising efforts are already in progress.