Originally published on Advocate.com March 18 2004 12:00 AM ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday sponsored an HIV awareness forum at Clark Atlanta University, which is predominantly African-American, as part of its response to reports of an HIV outbreak of Southern college campuses, particularly among black gay and bisexual men, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Hundreds of students attended the event, which included a talk by former U.S. surgeon general David Satcher, who said homophobia is "fueling the epidemic among blacks." He added that shunning gay people lowers their self-esteem and creates "a perfect setup for irresponsible behavior. We need to face up to the fact that there is diversity in sexual orientation."
The forum was held to help stop the spread of HIV among college students in the South. Federal health officials reported in February that 84 new HIV infections have been reported among college students in North Carolina since 2000, 88% of which were reported among young black men. Almost all of the infections were linked with gay sex. The outbreak is also believed to affect other areas, including Georgia. The CDC plans to sponsor similar HIV awareness events at colleges throughout the South in response to the current outbreak.