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AIDS activists
demand apology from presidential advisory council

AIDS activists
demand apology from presidential advisory council

Several prominent advocacy groups are demanding that the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) apologize for racially and ethnically insensitive remarks made Tuesday, according to a press release from the Campaign to End AIDS.

During the PACHA Members Open Discussion session on the first day of the meeting--which is open to the public--Harvard researcher Edward C. Green suggested that prevention techniques employed in Africa should be used in predominantly black American communities, the press release detailed. Audience members were outraged by the correlation made between black people living in developing Africa and the U.S.

When speaking of the disproportionate incarceration rates of young black men, Franklyn N. Judson, MD, explained that "there are more blacks in jail, since they commit more crimes." According to a study conducted by the Human Rights Watch, black men on average received longer sentences than white men for the same crimes.

These comments caused an outcry among AIDS activists and organizations.

"The racial and ethnic insensitivity was deeply disturbing," said Donna Crews, director of governmental affairs at AIDS Action, in the press release. "For a statement to be said for the record that 'there are more blacks in jail, since they commit more crimes' disregards the sentencing disparities that have been the norm in this country for more years than anyone would care to remember."

Groups also criticized PACHA for lacking sufficient representation of the affected populations. PACHA, a predominantly white council, addresses an epidemic where--according to the Office of National AIDS Policy--more than half of new infections are among people of color. "The collective face of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. has changed and so should its leadership," commented Larry Bryant, national field organizer of Housing Works and member of the Campaign to End AIDS, in the press release. (The Advocate)

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