June 25, 2004
PHOTO EXHIBIT, BOOK SIGNINGS TO FEATURE AFRICAN AMERICANS
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. A photographic tribute to African Americans who have made outstanding contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS and book signings by black authors are being sponsored next week by the Illinois Department of Public Health to raise awareness about the epidemic's impact on communities of color.
The photographic exhibit entitled "Heroes in the Struggle" will be on display from June 28 to July 17 at the Illinois State Library, 300 S. Second St. in Springfield. Those photographed for the exhibit include celebrities, athletes, politicians, doctors, people living with HIV/AIDS and community advocates.
"HIV/AIDS has had a profound effect on the African-American community," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "Through this exhibit we hope to raise awareness about the disease's disproportionate impact on blacks and to spark discussion discussions in black communities about HIV prevention, testing and treatment."
A reception and book signing featuring two authors - Geneva Bell and E. Lynn Harris - will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, at the library.
Bell's book, "My Rose," published in 1997, told the story about her son's battle with AIDS. Harris is the author of numerous bestsellers including "Just as I am," "Not a Day Goes By," and "Invisible Life," all three of which have been optioned for film.
In Illinois, African Americans represent about 16 percent of the state's population, yet they make up more than half of those diagnosed with AIDS and 53 percent of all HIV cases.
The state has recorded a total of 30,845 cases of AIDS since 1981 and, of those diagnosed with the disease, 16,715, or 54 percent have died. African Americans comprise 15,110 cases of the total AIDS cases and of these, 7,841 have died.
The exhibit is an effort of the Black AIDS Institute, Los Angeles, Calif., the only national public policy organization in the United States focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS among African Americans. It first launched the Heroes in the Struggle exhibit on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2001.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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