The South Carolina African-American HIV/AIDS council has received a $180,000 Ford Foundation grant to fight the spread of HIV in the South by mounting a campaign to reduce the stigma associated with the disease, Columbia, S.C.'s The State reports. African-Americans account for about 72% of all HIV cases in South Carolina, and health experts say one of the reasons for the high infection rate is that HIV and safer sex are still considered taboo topics in some black communities. The council will use the grant money to conduct community meetings in five regions of South Carolina and to present a play, titled To Touch God's Hands, that focuses on the disease and HIV prevention. A media campaign to reinforce prevention and promote HIV antibody testing also is planned.
The Ford Foundation awarded the council the grant money in recognition of its history of using "creative ways" to fight HIV stigma, according to Margaret Anderson, deputy director of the Academy for Educational Development, which announced the grants for the foundation.