I have been writing about Sheryl Lee Ralph's "Divas Simply Singing" special evening of entertainment to raise funds in the fight against HIV/AIDS for more than a decade. Over the years, each year, has been powerful, emotional and inspiring with Divas from all walks of life lending their awesome voices to challenge the Southern California area to stand up and be counted in the fight against this life-taking epidemic. This year, I am writing about this very special event early, to make everyone aware that it is coming, so that everyone might
Attend this very special fundraiser.
The HIV/AIDS numbers are up in the African American community across America especially among women. Our estimated number of new HIV infections leaves every other ethnicity in America in the dust by a long shot. According to the Federal Government's "Center of Disease Control and Prevention" in the United States, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a health crisis for African Americans. At all stages of HIV/AIDS-from infection with HIV to death with AIDS-Blacks (African Americans) are disproportionately affected compared with members of other races and ethnicities. Here is what the Center's 2005 HIV/AIDS statistics report:
- According to the 2000 census, Blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population. However, in 2005, Blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting.
- Of all Black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.
- Of all Black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high-risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use.
- Of the estimated 141 infants perinatally infected with HIV, 91 (65%) were Black (CDC, HIV/AIDS Reporting System, unpublished data, December 2006).
- Of the estimated 18,849 people under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made during 2001-2004 in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 11,554 (61%) were Black.
That was in 2005. In 2008, three years later, the estimated numbers are reaching pandemic levels. "What will it take?" says Ms. Ralph. "Well, we are going to keep right on singing-raising our voices, keep right on praying and standup to this disease."
The date for this special evening of song is October 11, 2008. You can purchase your tickets on line. Go to www.divasimplysinging.com. If you are a Patti Labelle or a Patti Austin fan, do not miss them on this up close and personal evening of song. This invitation is extended to everyone to step up and step out in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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