Minority Leaders Work to Address AIDS

In the mid-1990s, the prevalence of AIDS rose to alarming levels in some minority communities.

  • In 1998, HIV/AIDS was the third leading cause of death among Black* women and the second leading cause of death among Black men ages 25 to 44.1
  • The AIDS rate among adults and adolescents (i.e., the number of people living with AIDS per 100,000 population) was 84.7 among Blacks and 37.8 among Hispanics, compared to just 9.9 among Whites.1

In March 1998, African-American leaders were briefed on the highly disproportionate impact of the disease in their communities. They developed a Call to Action requesting that the President and Surgeon General declare HIV/AIDS a “State of Emergency” in the African-American community. These leaders also testified before the Congressional Black Caucus, urging action.

In October 1998, in response to these efforts, President Clinton declared HIV/AIDS a “severe and ongoing health care crisis” affecting racial and ethnic minorities. At the same time, he announced the creation of the Congressional Black Caucus Initiative, which later became the Minority AIDS Initiative.